Shakspere: the Irrelevant Life

by Richard Malim


In a study of Shakespeare, William Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon 1564-1616 should barely merit a five line footnote. However because literary ‘orthodoxy’ persists in giving him pride of a somewhat reduced place (compared to that properly due to Oxford/Shakespeare) in the history of English and universal literature, it is necessary to review his rôle in rather more detail. However comprehensive such review is, he remains devoid of any cultural connection with ‘Shakespeare’, apart from the use of a version of his name (sometimes hyphenated, sometimes not; when hyphenated, sometimes the second part starts with a capital – Shake-Speare). The proposition that a hyphen in the name denotes the use of it as a pseudonym is sometimes countered by the proffering of examples of other non-pseudonymous hyphenated names. This idea does not refute the original proposition, it merely sets out the battle lines of the contention. Similar debate about the spelling of the name Shakespeare when printed are usually inconclusive, although there are times when the arguments that both the spelling and the hyphenation are just the usual printers’ vagaries (and indeed over the superscript question marks instead of exclamation marks under the portrait in the 1640 edition of the poems) seem tenuous, especially as Shakspere and the locals of Stratford used the spelling Shakspere and variations exclusively, all without a medial E.

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