Why is there a Shakespeare Authorship Question?
In 1595 a cleric from Cambridge, called William Covell, wrote a book in which he revealed that the author of two recently published poems, Venus and Adonis and Lucrece (‘Sweet Shak-speare’) was the courtier-poet Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. That same year, Thomas Edwardes, in a work called Narcissus (also published in Cambridge) slyly confirmed this attribution, as did the anonymous author of a play, The Returne from Parnassus, which was performed before the scholars of Cambridge University at Christmas 1599. Also in 1599, John Weever, a pupil of Covell’s at Queens’ College, Cambridge, published a work in which he addressed the author of Venus and Adonis as ‘Spurius – a certain writer’. The Earl of Oxford who jealously guarded his literary anonymity had, along with his secretaries, John Lyly and Thomas Nashe, made enemies in Cambridge circles through a series of libellous mud-slinging pamphlets directed against the university don, Gabriel Harvey, his brother Richard, and various of their associates.