William Stanley and Edward De Vere: Did They Work Together In Publishing The Plays Attributed To William Shakespeare?

William Stanley Painting

To view or download this article as a PDF click here.


William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, was seriously considered as author of the works attributed to Mr William Shakespeare when Abel Lefranc’s Sous le Masque de William Shakespeare was published in 1918 – shortly before J. Thomas Looney’s “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1920). Those of all persuasions promoting ‘alternative authorship candidates’ often make the mistake of regarding their candidate as acting alone, rather than working with others while being the ‘distinctive voice’ permeating the canon. Edward de Vere’s collaboration with others for the production of plays in the 1580s was presented in the ‘Band of Brothers’: DVS Newsletter, Vol. 28, No, 1, p.4–14, January 2021, but has not been recognised for the plays published in the 1590s, early 1600s and in the First Folio in 1623. It is highly unlikely that de Vere was working alone in his final years, and one person available and able to help was his son-in-law, by then the 6th Earl of Derby. Thus, he would have been a ‘grand possessor’ of the plays. This essay provides evidence that Derby was not, and indirectly said he was not, the author of the plays attributed to Shakespeare, but that he contributed to several of them, having been in the right place at the right time when events reflected in those plays took place. Also, Derby’s visits to Dr John Dee on his way to and from his estates in Lancashire may be relevant to his role in plays demonstrating a knowledge of alchemy and Hermetism.

IntroductionEdward De Vere Painting

The motive and the cue for this article was Joella Werlin’s request in the July 2023 DVS Newsletter (p.6 and 29),1 for ‘the reader to mull over, to challenge, and/or to help substantiate’ her several hypotheses, including the role of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, as a ‘grand possessor’ (a term first used in the preface to the 1609 quarto of Triolus and Cressida)2 of the plays published in the First Folio. Peter Dickson’s Bardgate first alerted me to the possible involvement of the Earl of Derby,3 leading me to suggest a debate about Derby with Alexander Waugh in 2018.4 Both of us in the debate, and Joella Werlin, believe that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, was the leading and principal author of the works attributed to William Shakespeare, a pseudonym that was first printed in the dedications to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton for the popular long poems Venus and Adonis (1593) and The Rape of Lucrece (1594), as authorised by Archbishop Whitgift and no doubt approved by Lord Burghley and the Queen.5 The pseudonym was not used in print for any of his plays until 1598;6 and may have been part of a longer term plan to conceal the identity of the true author(s).

For more than a hundred years, since Abel Lefranc’s Sous le Masque de William Shakespeare was published in 1918,7 following three publications in 1891 and 1892 by James Greenstreet,8 ‘Derbyites’ have claimed that William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, who married Edward de Vere’s eldest daughter Elizabeth in 1595, was the true author of the Shakespeare canon.9-13 Lefranc’s scholarly book was in many ways a masterpiece – but, as emphasised by Michael Delahoyde in his review of Frank Lawlor’s translation,14 its main credit is the author’s exposition of the reasons why William Shakspere of Stratford could not have been the true author. Lefranc had the benefit of not being an Englishman, giving him an objective viewpoint on this subject, which he used to great effect. But many of his arguments in favour of the 6th Earl of Derby would be equally if not more applicable to the 17th Earl of Oxford. The wind must have been taken out of his sails by the publication two years later of “Shakespeare” Identified by J. Thomas Looney.15 Nevertheless, Lefranc maintained his opinion – and Looney allowed him to believe that Derby wrote The Tempest, which he regarded as not typically Shakespearean in style (Looney,15 p.503– 30); although most of us would disagree about some of the great, undoubtedly Shakespearean speeches, especially this example of the ‘one distinctive voice’ (a term used by Mark Anderson in Shakespeare by Another Name,16 p.293) that permeates the canon:

Edward De Vere Painting

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

(Tempest, IV.i.148–58)

The Shakespeare Fellowship, which was started in 1922 by Captain Bernard M. Ward’s father Colonel Bernard R. Ward, was a broad enough church to include Lefranc and Looney, and its Chairman George Greenwood maintained an equivocal opinion as to the identity of the true author.17 Neither of the books by Lefranc or Looney represented their last words, and they engaged in lively correspondence during the following years. Oxfordians and other authorship sceptics might well agree that Looney won the argument in his article, “Shakespeare”, Lord Oxford or Lord Derby?18 His final words in that article, which he justified by his asserting that Derby wrote no plays or sonnets after Edward de Vere died, were unequivocal:

One would not wish to be wanting in respect to a great scholar and an earnest investigator, but from the point of view of chronology, we are bound to say that the Derby theory asks us to accept views almost as preposterous as anything contained in the old Stratfordian creed. “It is hopeless. There is no other word for it.” Derby did not die until 1642.

So, while appreciating Lefranc for his brilliant exposition of the evidence against William of Stratford writing the works attributed to Shakespeare, let’s move on: first, to evidence that many of the plays were produced and performed a decade or so earlier than traditional dating when William Stanley, as he then was, could not have been involved; second, to evidence that Stanley/Derby was available to help his father-in-law with publishing his plays in the late 1590s, early 1600s (and after his father-in-law died); third, to evidence that he was capable of helping with the plays; fourth, to allusions linking him to certain ‘Shakespeare’ plays; fifth, to intriguing evidence of his involvement with alchemy and Hermetism; and finally to his indirectly saying that he had not written at least one of those plays.

Production of plays of ‘Shakespeare’ during the 1570s and 1580s

Chronology is again in favour of Lord Oxford versus Lord Derby. Looney stresses the later years,18 but earlier in life, William Stanley, not yet the Earl of Derby, was too young to have written plays in the 1570s (he was born in 1561) and was travelling in Europe during the 1580s (John Rollett,12 47), which was when early versions were played by the ‘Queenes Majesties Players’ (see below).

Ramon Jiménez, in Shakespeare’s Apprenticeship,19 provides convincing evidence for five plays being early versions, or juvenilia, written by de Vere during the 1570s and 80s and even the 1560s: The Troublesome Reign of King John, The True Tragedy of Richard III, The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth, Taming of A Shrew and King Leir. These plays were all published anonymously between 1591 (Troublesome Reign) and 1605 (King Leir).6 They are often thought by traditional scholars to be sources for Shakespeare’s canonical versions of those plays, which would leave the great author as something of a plagiarist – the impression given by Sir Sidney Lee in A Life of William Shakespeare.20 Jiménez bases the evidence on similarities of characters, names, topical source material, text and plot construction between the early and later versions, and the alternation of historical and comical scenes; and chronology. Early and later versions show differences between those written before and after de Vere enrolled at Gray’s Inn in 1567 and visited Italy during the 1570s.

Furthermore, dating the ‘Revolution’ in the English language from de Vere’s return from Europe in 1576, Richard Malim writes that Edward de Vere ‘as the true author is the reason why English, known to a few hundred foreigners at most in 1550, supplants all others today.’ In Chapter 8,21 (p.144–76) he gives evidence for early productions of Shakespeare plays, first at court, inns of court and Oxford and Cambridge. This was followed by productions at public theatres, being in those days ‘the abstract and brief chronicles of our time’ (Hamlet, II.ii.550).

In 1583, de Vere bought the lease on the Blackfriars Theatre for the use of his own players and the Queen’s Men; he then gave it to his secretary John Lyly to manage. Members of the DVS know about Edward de Vere and his ‘scriptorium’ or ‘band of brothers’ at Fisher’s Folly in the 1580s.22 Anderson regards the history plays as a deliberate ‘policy of plays’ (p.207–12),16 supporting the term used by Nashe,23 probably justifying Queen Elizabeth’s stipend of £1,000 per year from 1586. The plays were designed to bolster confidence in the Tudor regime while Queen Elizabeth was gathering money to fund the wars against Spain. None of the history plays (Richard II; Henry IV/Henry V; Henry VI/Richard III) was published until the 1590s or later but all were first written and presented during the previous decade at the latest. Jiménez (p.83-90)19 provides evidence for Henry V being played at Whitehall in 1583–4, for the Henry V Choruses being a direct response to An Apology for Poesie in which Philip Sidney (d. 1586) attacks recent history plays, and for the Henry VI plays being written earlier still (Henry V, Epilogue 9–14, p.107).

William Stanley was travelling in Europe during the 1580s and could not have been producing plays.

William Stanley could have worked with de Vere in the 1590s and early 1600s

Evidence of his collaboration with secretaries and playwrights in the 1580s indicates Edward de Vere’s ability and tendency to collaborate with others.22 This is supported by the ‘Interlude, Lord Oxford’s Euphuists (1579–1588)’ (p.178–205) in The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford (1550–1604) by Bernard M. Ward, as meticulously edited and republished by James A. Warren in 2022.24 At the request of the publisher John Murray, Ward’s book barely mentions the ‘Authorship Question’ – but allows an objective view of the life and activities of Edward de Vere. His book includes another ‘Interlude’ (p.315–28) on ‘William Stanley, Sixth Earl of Derby’, which details the time he and his wife spent in London with his father-in-law, the Earl of Oxford, and his wife (both their wives were called Elizabeth) at the formers’ London residence in Cannon Row or the latters’ at King’s Place, Hackney. Their visits were documented in 1595, 1596 and 1599 (Ward,24 p.327). It is notable that 1599 was the year that a much quoted letter, originally reported by Greenstreet,8 by a Catholic spy George Fenner saying that ‘The Earle of Derby is busied only penning comedies for the common players’ was intercepted before reaching its intended destination. Between 1598 and 1603 Love’s Labours Lost, Henry IV, Richard II, Richard III, Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merchant of Venice, Much Ado About Nothing, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Hamlet were published and attributed to Shakespeare (some as several quartos during the same period of time).6

What was going on? We know that the ‘early versions’ (according to Jiménez19) were published from 1591,6, and that according to Francis Meres (1598)25 twelve plays (all with canonical titles) were already known as by ‘Shakespeare’; including Love’s Labours Lost, the unknown Love’s Labours Won and two that were not published until the First Folio (Two Gentlemen of Verona and Comedy of Errors). Did the author hold these manuscripts in his possession in order to make revisions, which we know he must have done? It would have been impossible to make revisions without the original manuscripts.

The idea that the Earls of Derby and Oxford could have worked together publishing plays is supported by Looney himself (p.448–9),15 Lawler,7 Delahoyde,14 and Anderson: according to Anderson,16 (p.289) Edward de Vere ‘was occupied with two troubles that shaped his final years: his declining financial state and his physical infirmities.’ Although the evidence that Derby worked with his father-inlaw in his ‘troubled’ last decade of life is circumstantial, it would explain how the steady flow of plays from 1598–1603 was published – as well as those after 1604 and in the First Folio. Derby would still have been available to edit plays such as King Lear (1608), Troilus and Cressida (1609) and Othello (1622) and he would naturally have been a ‘grand possessor’ of the 18 unpublished plays he was left with when his father-in-law died – six months before de Vere’s youngest daughter Susan married Philip Herbert, the Earl of Montgomery, gaining access to the Pembroke family who enabled and probably paid for publication of the First Folio.

Thus, William Stanley was available to help his ‘infirm’ father-in-law publish his plays before (and after) he died and, as one of the ‘grand possessors’, to supply the unpublished plays for the First Folio.

William Stanley was fully capable of helping his father-in-law with his plays

Although his sister-in-law Alice was dismissive about William Stanley and wished for Elizabeth Vere a ‘better husband’ (letter to Robert Cecil, Ward,15 p.317) others paint a very different picture. After Greenstreet and Lefranc, the first proponent of Stanley as Shakespeare is Richard M. Lucas (1937)9 while perhaps the most detailed is A.W. Titherley (1948).10 A.J. Evans (1952) explains in Shakespeare’s Magic Circle the reasons why he concluded in Stanley’s favour (p.150–6),11 John Rollett, a former Oxfordian, gives ‘new evidence’ in a well-referenced study of the subject12 and John Raithel provides an accessible summary (2009) of the case for Stanley.13 Rollett’s ‘new evidence’ was a remarkable acrostic that convinced him that the editors of the First Folio regarded ‘Stanley’ (spelled ‘Stenley’) as Shakespeare, while he regards the other allusions as inconclusive (Rollett,12 p.97–100); could the acrostic be evidence that Derby was an editor of the First Folio itself (Werlin,1 p.19–20); or could he have influenced those editors? Rollett’s perplexity at the ‘dynastic’ implications of the sonnets seems to lead him to consider Oxford as their author (Rollett,12 p.63–7). We have to admit some uncertainty but accept evidence, as stated above, of ‘chronology’ and availability. Stylistic evidence, such as spelling and handwriting, reported by Lucas and Rollett would not be negated by Derby editing (or ‘penning’) Oxford’s plays before their publication in the First Folio.

We do not know why there was so much animosity between William and his brother Ferdinando, who left him nothing in his will, and whose wife unsuccessfully fought against him for his inheritance in the courts until 1610. We also do not know who wrote the plays performed by Lord Strange’s Men, later called Lord Derby’s Men when Ferdinando briefly became the 5th Earl before he died in 1593, probably poisoned. Ward24 (p.316) calls Ferdinando ‘a scholar, a poet and a patron of the drama’; but what about his younger brother William? Anderson16 (p.293) says William Stanley ‘was recognised by contemporaries as an accomplished court poet and playwright’ but without providing a citation. He may well have written the tributes in Tong Church in Shropshire to his uncle, cousin and son, who died at age 25 in 1632 (Rollett,12 p.136–8). The poems are very similar to each other but opinions may differ as to whether they are ‘Shakespearean’. The last lines of the touching tribute to his son Sir Robert is quoted below:

There rests his soul & for his other parts
They are embalm’d & lodg’d in good mens harts
A brauer monument of Stone or Lyme,
Noe arte can rayse for this shall out last tyme.

Unlike William of Stratford, William Stanley could write well, and was probably taught by John Davies of Hereford, who also taught the children of his brother Ferdinando (Evans,11 p.94). John Davies’ Epigram No. 159 (1610)26 sounds more like an allusion to William Stanley than to Edward de Vere. The comedies of Terence were known to have been written by others, such as ‘worthy scipio and wise Laelius’, which makes it likely that ‘Our English Terence, Mr. Will: Shakespeare’ suggests someone who was a front man for the true author. If there were such rumours,William Stanley would fit the epigram well, and his signature is rather a give-away:

Some say (good Will) which I, in sport, do sing)
Had’st though not plaid some Kingly parts in sport,
Thou hadst bin a companion for a King;
And, beene a King among the meaner sort.
Some others raile ; but, raile as they thinke fit,
Thou has no rayling, but a raigning Wit:
And honesty thou sow’st, which they do reape;
So, to increase their Stocke which they do keepe.

William Stanley had acted and could have become a King among the ‘meaner sort’ being descended from Henry VII’s younger sister. Lucas9 explains this as the ‘female line’, referring to Edmund Mortimer (I Henry VI, II. v. 122); this opinion is repeated by Titherley,10 (p.46), Evans,11 (p.95) and Rollett,12 (p.131). Stanley could have been a ‘companion’ to the Queen if he hadn’t annoyed her by having acted on the stage (Rollett,12 p.131). As a close family friend, John Davies would have known if Stanley had written the works of Shakespeare or was thought to have been a ‘front man’; but perhaps he was more a friend of Alice than of her brother-in-law.

It does seem likely that Edmund Spenser, who thought he was related to Ferdinando’s wife Alice Spencer, was referring to Willam Stanley in the last few lines of his tribute to Ferdinando (Amyntas) and his grieving widow Alice (Aamaryllis) in Colin Clout Comes Home Again (1595). The final few lines of the same stanza are thought by Rollett,12 (p.33–4) and Ward,24 (p.315), supported by Aetion being the Greek for eagle as in the crest of the Derby family, to refer to Ferdinando’s younger brother William:

And there, though last not least is Aetion,
A gentler shepheard may no where be found:
Whose muse, full of high thoughts invention,
Doth like himself heroically sound.

So, although there is no evidence for William Stanley having written plays, he wrote poetry, was closely involved with the theatre and would certainly have been capable of ‘penning’ plays.

Allusions to William Stanley in Shakespeare’s plays

The allusions to William Stanley take several different forms: the first involves plays that refer to the Stanley family but without implications for authorship. Some history plays preferentially present members of the de Vere and Stanley families: for example in the latter case, Stanley retrieving the crown from a bush and placing it on the head of Henry VII (Richard III, V. iv).

Stanley family members are represented in The Tempest to the extent of it being almost biographical, with antagonistic brothers – and a son called Ferdinand. Midsummer Night’s Dream has been suggested as written by Stanley for his wedding: the preference of Egeus for Demetrius rather than Lysander as a husband for his daughter Hermia (reflecting de Vere’s preference for the Earl of Southampton to marry his daughter Elizabeth) and Cupid’s love-shaft selecting Hermia rather than Helena; but both these allusions seem more likely have been written by de Vere than the bridegroom himself.

On the other hand, allusions to events in Love’s Labours Lost suggest greater involvement by Stanley with the content of the play, which has been taken to imply his authorship. This is less certain the more it is looked into. There is no clear evidence for Stanley’s presence at the Court of Navarre although he was at the much same place (southwest France) at much the same time (1579–1582) as the events in the play when Henry (King Ferdinand in the play), the future Henry IV of France, was visited by his estranged wife Marguerite de Valois and her mother Catherine de Medici. Furthermore, Holofernes displays a remarkable resemblance to Stanley’s pedantic ‘minder’ Richard Lloyd, who accompanied him on his European travels, and presented his own version of the ‘Nine Worthies’ shortly afterwards in Chester near the Derby residences.7-13 These allusions are complicated by Anderson’s observations of similarities (and Euphuistic dialogue) between Moth, Don Armado and Costard respectively to Thomas Nashe, Edward de Vere and William of Stratford (Anderson,16 p.260–4); and further so by Rima Greenhill’s revelations about relations between Elizabeth I and the court of Muscovy, which were well known during the 1580s, and explain the ‘play within a play’ in LLL.28

Shakespeare is believed to have revised his plays frequently, and may well have used different allusions at different times or added new ones to later versions. Although it was first published in 1598, Meres mentions LLL (and Love’s Labours Won) by ‘Shakespeare’, which implies an earlier version (or versions).25 These multiple allusions are complicated further by associations with Hermetism in several Shakespeare plays (see below).

Associations with William Stanley and Hermetism demonstrated in Shakespeare’s Plays

Jane Nelson’s article in the October 2022 DVS Newsletter; and Robert Baxter’s ‘Preview’ in the same issue (Nelson,29 p.6–14 and Baxter,29 p.36–44) provide fascinating insight into Hermetism and its relevance to the plays of ‘Shakespeare’. For information about her recent publication, ‘Shakespeare and religio mentis, A Study of Christian Hermetism in Four Plays’, please see her publisher’s website, brill.com.29 It struck me that the four plays mentioned in her thesis, Love’s Labours Lost, King Lear, The Tempest and Othello, were all published during the time when Derby is likely to have been working on those plays with his father-in-law – or could have continued to do so after he died. Indeed, Derby could even have been the primary author of The Tempest (Looney,15 p.503–30). As for King Lear, Joella Werlin believes Derby alluded to Oxford in the version of the play that he edited in the First Folio (Werlin,1 p.22); otherwise, that could have been done beforehand, which could be investigated by comparing the texts. Love’s Labours Lost is discussed above – and Othello below. Is it coincidence that all four of these plays involve Derby?

Jane Nelson promised a further article on this subject, to which we greatly look forward. To quote her article in the October newsletter (p.7),29 ‘The Hermetic doctrine teaches that the knowledge of self leading to a knowledge of God is the greaest virtue; the only vice is ignorance. Sin is defined as the consequence of Man’s choices.’ The seventeen texts of the Corpus Hermeticum were translated into French by Bishop François Foix de Candale who dedicated his translation and commentary to Marguerite of Navarre in 1579. In Love’s Labour’s Lost, Ferdinand, King of Navarre, and three friends vow to spend three years in study and silent contemplation resisting the desires of the material world but are forced to break the vow when the princess of France arrives with her ladies. ‘[John] Dee is clearly a nodal figure in the spread of Hermetic thought’ and ‘in late Tudor England despite Draconian censorship’ those who understood the doctrine seem to have included ‘Shakespeare’.29

A connection with Dr John Dee also involves William Stanley. Hermetism was well known to be practiced by Dr John Dee (1527–1608): See, several of Alexander Waugh’s very popular YouTube vidoes, which can be watched on the DVS website publicly accessible Media page.30 John Dee, mathematician, astrtologer, and alchemist acted as a ‘soothsayer’ and ‘spy’ for Queen Elizabeth, but was rejected by James I. Dee lived in Mortlake, where his property and library were vandalised while he was travelling aboard for six years, after which the Queen appointed him as Warden of Manchester University in 1595 where he lived (with his third wife and eight children) before returning to Mortlake in 1605. Dee was well known to Edward de Vere in his early years, when he followed his advice for his expensive but unsuccessful search for the Northwest Passage, and even more so to William Stanley – who visited him regularly in the 1590s on his journeys to and from his northern estates.27 Stanley’s mother, Margaret Clifford, granddaughter of Henry VII’s youngest daughter, was mistrusted by Queen Elizabeth because of her interest in alchemy – and her potential claim to the throne.

The connection between John Dee, William Stanley, Edward de Vere and all four of these plays gives strong circumstantial evidence for Stanley and de Vere working together by updating and publishing those plays. At that time, de Vere was highly unlikely, due to his infirmity, to have continued to visit John Dee; and he may have lost faith in him due to his previous experience.

How William Stanley indirectly said that he did not write Othello

The Tragedy of Othello was published in 1622 by Thomas Walkley at the Eagle and Child, a publishing house connected to the Derby family. See, Bardgate (p.259)3 for images of the pages quoted below

The Stationer to the Reader reads: “To set forth a booke without an epistle were like to the old English proverbe A blew coat without a badge, & the Author being dead, I thought good to take this piece of worke upon mee: To commend it, I will not, for that which is good, I hope every man will commend without entreaty: and I am the bolder, because the Author’s name is sufficient to vent his worke. Thus leading everyone to the liberty of judgement. I have ventered to print this play, and leave it to the generail censure.
[Emphasis added]
Yours, Thomas Walkley”

Thus, Othello has no dedication – unlike the publication later the same year of a translation of the relatively unknown Lazarillo de Tormez.

THE PURSUIT OF THE HISTORIE OF LAZARILLO DE TORMEZ GATHERED OUT of the Ancient Chronical of Toledo / By IEAN DE LUNA a Castillian / And now done into English and set forth by the same author / Dedicated to THE RIGHT HONORABLE JAMES Lord STRANGE, Mr ROBERT STANLEY, and The Lady Anne Carre. / The Hopefull Issue of the Truly Noble William, Earle of Derby, a fruitful Branch of the Ancient and Illustrious House of OXFORD

T.W. in humble acknowledgement of his Duty and Service to their Parents, themselves, and both the families, from which they are derived / Dedicates this strangely recovered Continuation of the pleasant History of LAZARILLO DE TORMEZ

Note, the dedication to the ‘Illustrious House of Oxford’ rather than the House of Derby.

William Stanley, with his potential claim for succession to the throne of England, would have had strong reasons for distancing himself from the plays and his collaboration with Edward de Vere, which could have been his reason for saying ‘the author being dead’. His knowledge of what had been done to his brother Ferdinando could have made him want to return to the relative safety of his ‘northern court’. His interest in the plays may have been influenced by his personal contribution to them, as well as to his love of theatre as the ‘abstract and brief chronicles of our time’, which nonetheless deserved to be preserved for posterity.


The circumstantial and historical evidence presented here indicates that William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, was in an excellent position to work with his father-inlaw Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, who by his last decade of life admitted to being ‘infirm’, by editing as well as contributing additional historical and personal elements to some of the plays published in the 1590s and early 1600s.

Finding himself a ‘grand possessor’ of 18 plays that remained unpublished after his father-in-law died, Derby was able to pass these on to the Pembroke/Herbert family for publication in the First Folio when Susan Vere married Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery, six months later. By the time these plays were published (1598 onward), they were all attributed to William Shakespeare (with or without a hyphen) as were all 36 plays in the First Folio. The reasons for retaining the pseudonym were clearly linked to the politics of the regime of James I and the Herbert/Pembroke family, which are not dealt with here; and Derby and Oxford had different reasons for secrecy.

End notes

  1. Joella Werlin, ‘Shakespeare Foolery (1623–2023): A Tragical-Comical-Historical Family Drama Divulged in “the Dyer’s Hand”’, DVS Newsletter, Vol. 30, No.3, p.5 and 29, July 2023.
  2. Troilus and Cressida, 1609 quarto, preface: ‘A never writer, to an ever reader’ … ‘never staled with the stage, never clapper-clawed with the palms of the vulgar’ … ‘but thanke fortune for the scape it hath made amongst you. Since by the grand possessors’ wills, I believe, you should have prayd for them …’ [underline, op cit, Werlin]
  3. Peter Dickson, Bardgate: Shake-speare, and the Royalists who stole the Bard.
  4. Amanda Hinds and Alexander Waugh, debate, ‘Who was “Our English Terence Will: Shake-speare”?’, DVS Newsletter, Vol. 26, No.3, pp.13–29, July 2019.
  5. Katherine Chiljan, Shakespeare Suppressed: The Uncensored Truth about Shakespeare and his Works, San Francisco, Faire Editions, 2016, p.20, 30–4; p. 410 fns 13, 34.
  6. The Dating of Shakespeare’s Plays, edited by Kevin Gilvary, Parapress, 2010; also available online through the DVS website: https://deveresociety.co.uk/edwardde-vere-as-shakespeare/dating-shakespeares-plays/
  7. Abel Lefranc, Sous le Masque de “William Shakespeare”: William Stanley, VIe Comte de Derby, Paris: Péyot & Cie, 1918–19; and Behind the Mask of William Shakespeare by Abel Lefranc, translated by Frank Lawler, Veritas Publications, 2022.
  8. James Greenstreet, ‘A Hitherto Unknown Noble Writer of Elizabethan Comedies’, The Genealogist, New Series, Vol 7, p.205–8, 1891, ‘Further Notices of William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, K.G., as Poet and Dramatist’, Vol.8, p.8–15, 1892 and ‘Testimonies Against the Accepted Authorship of Shakespeare’s Plays’, Vol.8, p.137–46, 1892.
  9. Richard MacDonald Lucas, Shakespeare’s Vital Secret, Rydal Press, 1937.
  10. A.W. Titherley, Shakespeare’s Identity: William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby, Winchester, Warren & Sons, 1952
  11. A.J. Evans, Shakespeare’s Magic Circle, Associated Booksellers, 1952.
  12. John Rollett, William Stanley as Shakespeare: Evidence of Authorship by the Sixth Earl of Derby, McFarland & Co., 2015.
  13. John Raithel, The Other W.S., William Stanley, Sixth Earl of Derby. The Oxfordian Volume XI 2009. See also, www.rahul.net/raithel/Derby
  14. Michael Delahoyde, review of Frank Lawlor’s translation of Abel Lefranc’s Sous le Masque (see note 7 above), DVS Newsletter, Vol. 30, No. 3, p.44–9, July 2023.
  15. J Thomas Looney, “Shakespeare” Identified in Edward de Vere the Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, 1920; republished as “Shakespeare Identified’ by J. Thomas Looney, James A. Warren (Editor), Centenary Edition, Veritas Publications, 2019.
  16. Mark Anderson, Shakespeare by Another Name; The Life of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, the Man who was Shakespeare, New York: Gotham Books, 2005.
  17. James A. Warren, Shakespeare Revolutionized, Cary, North Carolina, Veritas Publications, 2021, (pp.142–66).
  18. J. Thomas Looney, ‘ “Shakespeare”: Lord Oxford or Lord Derby?’ Republished in the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship Newsletter, Vol. 53, No. 2, p.1, p.12–6, Spring 2017, with an explanatory note by James Warren.
  19. Ramon Jiménez, Shakespeare’s Apprenticeship, Jefferson NC: McFarland & Co, 1918.
  20. Sir Sidney Lee, A Life of William Shakespeare, London: Smith, Elder & Co., 2015. This was written at much the same time as his entry on Edward de Vere in the Dictionary of National Biography that alerted Looney (but apparently not Sir Sidney?) to him being Shakespeare. His article on Edward de Vere was later replaced by one written by Alan H. Nelson.
  21. Richard Malim, Shakespeare’s Revolution, London, Austin Macaulay Publishers, 2022.
  22. Band of Brothers: Edward de Vere and his Literary Circle in the 1580s’, Report of the DVS Autumn Conference Webinar 2020, DVS Newsletter, Vol. 28, No, 1, pp.4–14, January 2021.
  23. Thomas Nashe, Pierce Penniless, His Supplication to the Devil, 1592.
  24. Bernard M. Ward, The Seventeenth Earl of Oxford 1550–1604, a new edition edited by James A. Warren, Cary, NC: Veritas Publications, 2023.
  25. Francis Meres, Palladis Tamia, Wits Treasury, 1598. 26. Davies of Hereford, Scourge of Folly, 1610, Epigram 159.
  26. Davies of Hereford, Scourge of Folly, 1610, Epigram 159.
  27. Dr John Dee, The Private Diary of Dr John Dee, referred to by John Rollett, Ch 27, n 46, p.189. See also, https://www.gutenberg.org/files/19553/19553-h/19553-h.htm
  28. Rima Greenhill, Shakespeare, Elizabeth and Ivan: The Role of English-Russian Relations in Love’s Labours Lost, McFarland & Co., 2023; and The Oxfordian IX, 2006.
  29. Jane Nelson, ‘Christian Hermetism and Shakespeare’, DVS Newsletter, No. 29, Vol. 4, p.6–14, October 2022, and in the same issue, p.35–44, a Preview by Robert Baxter of Shakespeare and religio mentis: A study of Christian Hermetism in Four Plays by Jane Everingham Nelson, 2022. See, https://brill.com/display/title/62441.
  30. Alexander Waugh, ‘The Incalculable Genius of John Dee’ and other videos, see https://deveresociety.co.uk/ at Media / YouTube: Alexander Waugh, or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-PWR7-0Hp4


To view or download this article as a PDF click here.