In Brief—The evidence shows that Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, probably wrote the sonnets and plays attributed to William Shakespeare. The blog author shows why this is the case.
”All hoods make not monks.” (Henry VIII)
“Fraud” is too strong a word, but Myth” fits the facts like a fine glove. Not a week goes by that we can’t see a reference to “the great William Shakespeare,” the famous bard of Avon. However, according to the most credible evidence, the man called Shakespeare seems to have been unjustly credited with writing the sonnets and plays we now applaud.
Since we can’t return to the 16th and 17th Centuries to determine the truth, we are left with the evidence. That is what I will present.
The Mary Sidney Society has an excellent review of the evidence available, and Robin P. Williams’ book Sweet Swan of Avon presents a lawyerly examination of the available facts that is the most credible evidence I have ever read. Ms. Williams should have been a lawyer.
To judge Mary Sidney (as she was known) properly, we need look no further than what we see around us every day here in the 21st Century.
Today Mirrors the 16th and 17th Centuries—
Among numerous other deliberate lies, Hillary Clinton has stated that Edward Snowden is a traitor who must be punished. Bernie Sanders remains quiet about his support for the flawed F-35 fighter and now disclaims his past support for guns.
Across the aisle, the Republican candidates claim climate change is a fraud. They would defund Planned Parenthood despite convincing evidence that the films were fraudulently doctored. Then there’s the myth of Obama being a Muslim.
Contrary to abundant evidence, the U.S. military claims the deliberate destruction of a clearly-marked Doctors Without Borders hospital was an “unfortunate accident,” and the Obama administration refuses to allow an independent investigation. Every government and politician lies, so why would it be any different in earlier centuries?
Years of research shows that humans will adamantly believe what they want regardless of undeniable proof that they are wrong. Are the proponents of Edward De Vere, Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, William Stanley and others exceptions?
Indeed, isn’t it believable that Mary Sidney, who was a member of the Tudor royal court, would reflect the Tudor defamation of the Plantagenet King Richard III when she wrote that play? Josephine Tey’s 1951 novel, The Daughter of Time, presents credible information showing that Richard III was probably not the monster we see in the play.
Notwithstanding advances, women today are still discriminated against in a variety of ways. Imagine how bad it was for females in Mary Sidney’s time. Mary Sidney was in fact quite well-educated in a wide variety of subjects reflecting the education she received as a member of the royal court. However, unlike Sidney, women were generally limited in what they were allowed to do. It was a patriarchal society in which men dominated. The husband owned everything. Women were not allowed to attend the university, and only because she was a member of the royal court did Sidney attain a superior education. Put simply, while Mary Sidney was an unusual woman, not just in her time but even today, she was nevertheless a woman.
Though the Mary Sidney Society ably describes the social stigma attached to women as the equals of men, I ask if it isn’t entirely believable that Sidney’s son would seek to protect his mother (and possibly enrich himself) by selling the sonnets and plays to William Shakespeare, a far less educated man about whom very little is known. Might Shakespeare be motivated to claim he was the author?
We know that following the death of her husband, Mary Sidney was reduced financially, so isn’t it possible that the money obtained by the sale of those works might have preserved the family reputation even as it eased Sidney’s financial worries?
Although I said in “A Woman Wrote Shakespeare” that Mary Sidney was the probable author of the Shakespearean oeuvre, it bears repeating that the available evidence supports that claim.
I urge you to read what the Mary Sidney Society has to say. They are quite convincing: Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, is the true author.