cover image "Shakespeare" by Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, the Man Who Was Shakespeare

"Shakespeare" by Another Name: The Life of Edward de Vere, the Man Who Was Shakespeare

, . . Gotham, $30 (576pp) ISBN 978-1-59240-103-1

Anderson, a contributor to Wired and Harper's , is only the latest to champion Edward de Vere, the 17th earl of Oxford, as the author of Shakespeare's works. The hypothesis rests chiefly on the charismatic de Vere's eventful life and times. De Vere came into his earldom early, after his father's unexpected death, and spent his childhood as a ward of Queen Elizabeth's chief minister, William Cecil, whom Anderson casts as Polonius to de Vere's Hamlet. Cecil provided de Vere with a first-rate education that prepared him for his travels in Italy and his short-lived success in Elizabeth's court, which the earl undermined by fighting with fellow courtier Philip Sidney, impregnating one of Elizabeth's maids-of-honor and general profligacy. Anderson slows down his account by constantly equating events and people in de Vere's life with almost every character and scene in Shakespeare's plays. The earl's inconvenient death in 1604, however, requires Anderson to explain away all contemporary references in the last phase of Shakespeare's output with the same vehemence with which he found earlier coded identifications. The anti-Stratford movement currently favors the Oxfordians, who will eat this up; others will find it hard to swallow. (Aug. 22)