Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Stop Calling Shakspere "Shakespeare"

The following anonymous comment to P. Farey's essay "Prosecute it to the full" in MSC blog illustrates a key reason why it matters what name we use when referring to the Stratford actor.
"But I think you guys do need to recognise that *superficially* it sounds supremely nuts to say 'Shakespeare didn't write his plays, Marlowe did'. Because an obvious first reason for assuming authorship is the presence of the name on the title page. That's not a small, irrelevant, detail. It's pretty darn big and important. To suggest anything but the simplest explanation for that fact requires a very very good reason.

As it happens, you do possess some very intriguingly good reasons. And because the data is actually so good, if you confine yourselves to simply presenting it in as un-contrived and un-adorned way possible, it will sell itself, despite the obvious initial sense of 'wtf'?"
So if you love Marlowe and want his reputation and credit to be restored, then stop calling Shakspere Shakespeare!

The man from Stratford (whose name was pronounced Shakspur) never spelled his name that way and was never seriously thought to be an author of plays or poetry by anyone during his lifetime; nor was the possibility even hinted at in 1616 when he died. Not until the "rash enterprise" known as the Shakespeare First Folio was published in 1623 did the man from Stratford become identified as the pseudonymous author known as WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE.

Similarly, the belief that Christopher contracted with Shakspere to be his front is nonsense. There was no need. The Earl of Southampton had Marlowe's back in the first few years, when the two classic epic narrative poems, Venus & Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, made the name "Shakespeare" famous. No plays were printed with name "Shakespeare" on the title page until 1598, (coincidentally the year Edward Blount gave Marlowe a proper literary burial in his dedicatory epistle to Sir Thomas Walsingham, but that's another story).