So we are to be treated to a Hollywood version of The Shakespeare Authorship Question at last. Roland Emmerich is directing Anonymous, a full-scale re-telling of the SAQ in its latest incarnation, that is, that The Earl of Oxford, a/k/a William Shake-speare, wrote just about everything from Piers Ploughman to Hellzapoppin, by way of the King James Bible. Furthermore, he is supposed to be the son of Queen Elizabeth, and the father of henry Wriothesley, the Earl of Southampton by the same woman, which is making this story seem about as plausible as the plot of Götterdämmerung. However, having once produced a television program on the same topic, albeit without the characters descending to incest and Queenophilia, I am keeping an open mind about it.
But when we read that Emmerich doesn't know much about the era, nor read much Shakespeare - does he care enough to be a good director for this touchy subject? Or will this be the 16th century version of Oliver Stone's W?
Again, I do keep an open mind (and, my friends point out, have a hole in my head to prove it); but some of the "evidence" to support the ideas of every braincramp that comes from the conspiracy-theoristas can be appalling as well as amusing. Added to that, the academicians start to froth at every orifice, and the battles-royal are terrifying in their scope and wrath. Early on (internetwise), Professor Hardy Cook's SHAKSPER Listserv had some lively discussions on the topic, but the venom that eventually seeped from the traditionalists was sometimes a sight to see, since they could not repress those who thought they were storming the Bardian Bastille. Eventually, I think, all Oxfordians were banned from the moderated list.
Theoristas do tend to go on at length. Delia Bacon's book weighs in at more than 500 pages; so do the Ogburns' magnae chartae. But one of the most inventive is actually a slender volume by Ralph L. Tweedale titled "Wasn't Shakespeare Somone Else?" (a coy title if there ever was one). Ralph believed that if you take all the instances of the letters "V E R E" including "W E R E" and "V E R" and a few other permutations, and circle them in the SONNETS of 1609, you can connect the circles with lines and lo and behold, large forms of letters appear in each sonnet, spelling out secret messages...