All that's left for me to complete writing now is the seemingly endless Chapter Notes, and a couple of paragraphs each on the bad quartos of Romeo and Juliet, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and Henry V. I also still need to fold in edits from two more early readers, and do a final proofreading. Hooray! It's great to be this close to finishing at last.
QUESTION LIST (based on real questions people have asked me)
Question 1. If Thomas Sackville wrote Shakespeare’s works, why didn’t he want credit for his achievements?
Question 2. I’m not convinced that Sackville had both ready access and the direct connection to deliver plays to William. Wouldn’t it be somewhat uncharacteristic for a man in his position to be dealing “under the table,” so to speak, in such a fashion?
Question 3. Why do you feel that by the time the First Folio was printed in 1623, some fifteen years after Sackville’s death, there still would have been a desire or need to hide the Bard’s true identity as Sackville? Especially since you cite evidence in The Apocryphal William Shakespeare that a goodly number of his fellow poets knew of the situation, and were not shy of slyly referring to it during his lifetime? What would be the purpose of hiding the truth after all parties were long dead, including the “front man” from Stratford? Wouldn’t the revelation have stirred even more public interest in the Folio as a commercial proposition for both players and printers?
Question 5. The casual reader can’t help but note that Sackville’s poems use many archaic forms, such as “treen” for “trees,” while Shakespeare never does. Is there another example of a poet who wrote in both eras and transitioned from the archaic style to a more modern style?
Question 6. In 1996, two Claremont McKenna College professors, Dr. Ward Elliott and Dr. Robert Valenza, published an article titled “And Then There Were None: Winnowing the Shakespeare Claimants.” They and their students applied 51 stylometric computer tests to the writings of 37 alternative authorship candidates, including Thomas Sackville based on his two Mirror for Magistrates poems. No claimant, including Sackville, was a match to Shakespeare. Why doesn’t their analysis rule Sackville out as the “true Shakespeare”?
Question 7. Is there any connection between Thomas Sackville and the Herbert brothers, who seem to have overseen the publication of the First Folio? The First Folio is dedicated to William Herbert, third Earl of Pembroke (who was once engaged to Oxford’s daughter Bridget), and his brother Philip Herbert, Earl of Montgomery (who was married to Oxford’s daughter Susan). This seems to be a point in Oxford’s favor.
Question 8. Is there a clear-cut emotional through-line from Sackville to Shakespeare? This is rather subjective, but if the Earl of Oxford were the Bard, I can understand why he would be obsessed with the issue of unfounded marital jealousy and motivated to attack Burghley, his exasperating father-in-law, in Hamlet. With Sackville, we have to interpret much of this material as an observer commenting in a somewhat detached way on notable figures at court. To me, this is less compelling and doesn’t quite account for the bitterness and deep emotion I find in the plays. But it’s a debatable point, and there does seem to be an intellectual and possibly aesthetic through-line, at least.
Question 9. It seems to me that Richard III is a sticky issue for the Sackville hypothesis, because you’ve mentioned that Sackville was a close personal friend of Robert Cecil. This being the case, why would Sackville have cruelly lampooned Cecil as the hunchbacked Richard? This seems like a very unkind thing to do, not to mention impolitic.
Question 10. A possible weakness of the Sackville theory is that he apparently spent a great deal of time in Rome, but Shakespeare does not seem to have had much, if any, firsthand experience of Rome. What is your explanation for why Shakespeare’s descriptions of that city are not as detailed and accurate as his descriptions of (say) Venice and Verona?
Question 11. As an Oxfordian/Groupist/Masonic Conspiratoralist, I delight in your introduction of Thomas Sackville as being a major player in the Shake-speare project. Unfortunately, I strongly doubt your book even mentions the fact that Sackville was Grand Master Freemason (1561-1567).
Question 12. Does Sackville’s signature survive? It would make for an interesting comparison with William’s blotted scrawl.
Answer 12. Here are two of his autographs, one as young Thomas Sackville and one as the mature Baron of Buckhurst. His youthful autograph is fanciful and playful, while his mature autograph is elegant and clear. He obviously changed his handwriting style as he grew older to one more befitting an elder statesman.