Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Face of Shakespeare - Part II

By Martha Reed

I continue to be fascinated by the discussion as to the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Of course, I know the life story of the Bard of Avon. I’m willing to say he was the face of the playwright. But recently another theory has stepped forward and I’m fascinated by it because this new theory proposes that some of the works of Shakespeare were actually written by Emilia Lanier, the first published English woman poet who may also be The Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets:

  Sonnet 130

My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun,
Coral is far more red, than her lips red,
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun:
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head:
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks,
And in some perfumes is there more delight,
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know,
That music hath a far more pleasing sound:
I grant I never saw a goddess go,
My mistress when she walks treads on the ground.
And yet by heaven I think my love as rare,
As any she belied with false compare.

You can go online and read more about the discussion but I’d like to use this blog to post my two cents worth on it because there’s something in the discussion that strikes me – a modern author – as a modern truth even though it’s more than four hundred years old and that’s the way the plays run along to parallel tracks depending on their settings.
First we have the history plays, all the Henrys and Richards and even Macbeth; those make sense to me because the playwright was writing to entertain an aristocratic or royal sponsor and there’s nothing like polishing up your bosses’ ancestors to bring home the clink. But how do you explain The Merchant of Venice or The Taming of the Shrew? These plays have a different sensibility to them. It’s almost as if the writer (whoever it was) was working under a different contract. That’s what makes me think that “Shakespeare” was a writing team. A gifted but relatively undereducated man from Avon and his partner/lover, an extremely well educated woman who had ties with the Tudor court. 

Emelia had been the teenaged mistress of Henry VIII’s illegitimate son, Henry Carey, his natural son by Anne Boleyn’s sister Mary. Shazooey, these Tudor bloodlines were complicated.
I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about this in the four hundred years to come. But the thing that strikes me now is that it sounds reasonable. What’s your theory?


Gina said...

Sounds reasonable to me. Now all we need is for someone to find the smoking gun - uh, make that "quill pen" . . .

Jenna said...

Interesting... Although to be honest, I don't see the fascination. What's wrong with believing that Will wrote the Shakespeare plays and sonnets himself, all by his lonesome? There are lots of writers who cross genres and write comedy as well as tragedy and everything in between. No reason to think that William Shakespeare wouldn't be able to. I'll be the first to admit I know very little about it, though. I've read and acted in Shakespeare's plays, but I've never made a point to brush up on the various conspiracy theories concerning the authorship.

Ramona said...

"Shazooey" - is that Shakespearean?

I think this is an unsolvable mystery.

Patg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patg said...

It's a mystery, and as Ramona said quite unsolvable unless something long lost comes along to show proof.
ITMT--sure, anything to turn the scholary statis quo on its ear. Especially if it gives credit to a female.

Nancy said...

Now, see, I believe he wrote them all. In fact, I think some plays are rough drafts of others. (Sir Toby Belch had to be a draft of Falstaff. Don John from Much Ado is a forerunner of Iago.) Harold Bloom's book is terrific. Harold might need a pie in the face, though.