…spent more than enough time in ‘em looking for him and those about him. So what was his experience of libraries?
Libraries were few and far between. And the Conspiracists use this to their supposed advantage, saying where oh where could a mere Shakespeare browse and study?
Well here’s one probable answer.
The largest library in Elizabethan England wasn’t owned by some Nobleman but by the mathematician and hermeticist John Dee. Follow this link and you will find toc and 3 partial chapters of the book by Peter French – John Dee: The World of an Elizabethan Magus. Click on the link in contents to the chapter obout his library for the lowdown on what it contained.
John Dee, strange man living in a strange time, shrouded in mystery through history and yet advisor to the Queen! her inmost thoughts and fears. She would act on his words. So who he?
Dee was instrumental in applying Euclidean Geometry to navigation and coined the name Brittania. For these reasons alone he should be more revered in history than he is.
As magical as Oxfordian theories go, Mark Anderson in his seminal ‘Sh by Another Name’ makes no mention of Dee, or his house Mortlake where his library was housed, or his connection to Elizabeth 1st, e.g. advising her coronation date.
Dee had suffered for his faith (the opposite of Puritan Protestantism) under Mary you see, and was imprisoned with Princess Elizabeth for a while. He doesn’t mention any teenage pregnancies though. Apparently Dee spoke of an exchange of letters with de Vere in the early 1570′s.
Dee was also friendly with Sir Philip Sidney’s circle of influence. Sidney’s argument with the Earl of Oxford at a tennis match probably shows why Oxfordian biographers don’t mention him perhaps. Dee is a testament to an ordinary man being able to learn, and allowing others to learn smack in the middle of their exclusive Noblesse Oblige club.
More Platonic Academy like, which i feel is how Sh and his fellowes interacted and learned the various skills they undertook, actively pursuing the available knowledge of the time towards the harder questions in life.
Subtlety and sublimity have to enter into the equation when discussing Sh’s artifice. But you can’t deny a guy the idea of an inner life by suggesting his being a country bumpkin excludes him from the game that is everyone, and i mean everyone’s birthright. Will you develop an inner life or not?
Dee had contact with all the great names of the Elizabethan period of the 1570′s and 1580′s, including the Bacon brothers’ father. He had the ear of the Queen. And he was a commoner.
Oh yes and he used an obsidian. Which remains a most beautiful, if not mellifluous word, if not some igneous glass-like kind of stone apparently. Used it for divining ends, Dee did. Rough hew that how you will.
Dee has a bad name in orthodox Sh circles too. At least he is rarely mentioned in serious scholarly tomes. Frances Yates being the ultimate authority on Dee and his connection to theatre design and architecture.
Dee may also have founded the Rosicrucian movement in England: the Protestant answer to the Catholic Jesuit branch.
Baconians like to make their man out to be the founding father of the rosy-cross or rozenkrans: a stern guild. A bad joke. Religion is no laughing matter, when you can be burnt at the stake for making silly jokes.
The reason he has a bad name is because he was an alchemist and actively pursued his analysis of the Enochian language and tried to have discussions with angels. This knowledge in turn is linked to modern day Occultism and Crowley the Beast and the Golden Dawn practioners of Britain’s romantic era.
Hardly fodder for consideration by old-school Catholic or C of E Shakespeareans. Scottish accent required the noo: ‘This prejudice may or may not be but’ .
This table of contents will provide you with a brief outline of Dee’s biography.
It treats of a serious young renaissance scholar who joined at age 15 and graduated at age 18 from Cambridge University; turned polymath; turned charlatan’s apprentice; turned povetry stricken old pantaloon. Model for Lear, Prospero, and Timon perhaps.
And he travelled and had contact with many of the most important Court figures of Renaissance Europe, as well if not better than any Oxford.
Funnily enough we even have Dee’s testimony of attending a Shakespeare play (Macbeth I believe. I’ll find and post his review) at the Globe theatre late in Sh’s career around 1606.
The Oxfordians date Macbeth’s first performance to 1611 and its displeasure and banishment ’til after James death.
Sorry (curses) the person involved was Simon Forman in 1611, another Physician and necromancer, as Andrew Gurr calls him in ‘Playgoing in Sh’s London’.
He (Forman) doesn’t mention who wrote the plays he saw though, just summarises the plot like most commentators and spectators of the time did.
Here’s an interesting speculation on how Dee may have helped develop
the special effects necessary for floating a dagger. But if that had happened surely an account of it would exist. That’s sfx of the first order back then.
Oh yes, and the name of his house was Mortlake. Now if that doesn’t conjure up Arthurian legend what will? Every Londoner from Court or City knew where it was, and could find or avoid it at Will.
Many found it and studied the latest ideas of the time whether it be geometry, or cartography, or geography, or history, or philosophy, A perfect place for a young provincial trying to learn his way in the world.
Just because we cannot prove exactly what, when, how, why, and where Sh learned and acquired his materials for his plays,
doesn’t mean he couldn’t learn it by not being a member of the priviliged classes.
Those classes whose biographies we have in abundance. Letters and accounts, and whose influence in the world of arts and letters is well-documented. And centuries later manipulated by eager conspiracists and their over-eager acolytes.
Because of course Oxford must have known of Dee, unless he were an absolute galoose. And he did they communicated in letters that are now lost! I suspect Cecil of course. They date to 1570 when Oxenforde was getting into the esoteric side of life. Dee was your man for a dose of magic.
And wouldn’t Dee have noted if Oxford were Elizabeth’s love-child and their incest-child, the Earl of Southampton? (You ever see a portrait of him and his mother side by side btw? He, her mirror.)
What was she saying, while all that trash was talking? Well of course she couldn’t say nothing coz the mother fugger is fugging the Queen. And she Queenie had the FINAL say.
And yes she was human and may have been sexually active, despite her claims to the contrary. And the story from Ben Jonson that she was all impenetrable down there.
SO the question remains Occam’s razor-like to shave us stalwarts of the Stratfordian faith:
were there other ways to research the same materials from which the plays are made?
Yes is the obvious answer. e.g. Dee had 3 copies of Metamorphoses. Just saying, it proves nothing. (sonnnet fans read the section of sonnets from 55 up to 65 for some Ovidian fun).
Dee had objects as well, as did all adequate antiquaires of the time. People collected the past. a roman coin here, a lock of Mary’s hair there.
I believe the Palace at Nonsuch also had a huge collection of curiosa and antique objects, as well as paintings and tapestries. I’ll try to find a better description than that. If possible from a contemporary.
Dee was Elizabeth 1sts Karl Rove. Need a good reason to invade a sovereign country? His work on British history had uncovered Welsh Prince Madoc, who discovered USA long before Christopher who? And through Madoc found the Queen’s favour to claim this foreign land under her legitimate sovereignty.
Like WMD’s, we ain’t heard that one much in the media lately. The topic is still under discussion about the Welsh claim to have found America in the mid 6thC. It convinced Elizabeth. She should have founded New York, but instead Virginia and the lost colony at Roanoke Island.
So explain him, our John Dee away. Focus on the angels and magic and dark forces his inquiry awakens, and unleash the truth that Satan wrote Shakespeare, to stop you thinking about God. To focus instead on this devilishly divine creation, humanity.
Al Pacino’s character in the Devil’s Advocate had it right when he tells his own incestuous love-spawn: ‘I’m a humanist, maybe the last humanist’.
Maybe the first.
You can download a PDF of John Dee’s Private Diary here.
In the interest of the full story. Dee’s library was plundered during his absence fom Mortlake. This site gives you the lurid details from the Lost Dutchman. Dee’s diary has some disturbing stuff in it, which obviously you can read above.
Plus you can see the contents of his library is as significant a body of works as any, in all genres. Not only History Geneaology Geography Astronomy Mathematics Philosophy but theatre design and curiosa of the Natural world and former civilizations. A frickin mini-museum eh?
All I’m trying to prove here is that it was possible for numbnuts Shakespeare to have been in the right circumstances, in the right place, at the right time. There were books available to be read. The books at Richard Field’s printing press are documented, including source materials for the plays and poems.
Don’t forget he didn’t work 9-5. he was his own boss, his own petty kingdom. His ties to other obligation obliged only as money needed to fund his Art and have place to study it and write it.
If all he was doing was gagging on Noble worst, puking his soul away from his family, as much as himself. Then ‘Shame on you Sir!’
Such is the Shakespeare I predict we will see in Anonymous. A drunken yes-man forced into the deal by some homo-erotic hero-worshipping….sorry, the lady doth project too much methinks.
(october 2011: yep.)
I wonder if Sir Fulke Greville is in it?(nope). Did he know Oxenforde the 17th Earl? I’ll bet Cecil will do some spectacular skullduggery. We’re in for his physical opposite with the casting if we are historically correct but hey look at how many different sized Hamlets we’ve had. Rumoured was that Burbage had put on a few pounds when he was playing the part.
What a nerd. Can”t wait for the film to come out. And even then i probably will wait. Til the cinemas open.
A completely rebuilt City of London. Kick ass! If they followed John Stow as they must, they have a gate by gate, parish by parish description of the inhabitants of the area and the type of labour or commerce is done there.
Let me take you by the hand