Solving the Greatest Literary Mystery of All Time(amazon)
Joseph Sobran (View Bio)
Hardcover: The Free Press, 1997.
This is the most thorough and persuasive challenge to "the man from Stratford" since the theory that Shakespeare may in fact have been the scandalous Earl of Oxford was first proposed in the 1920s. Freud thought the hypothesis had merit, for whatever that's worth. Oxford's life is indeed fascinating, and the parallels quite remarkable. The question of who Shakespeare really was continues to cause ferocious debate and, with this book, no doubt always will.
"The publication of Joseph Sobran's ALIAS SHAKESPEARE in April 1997 prompted me to begin thinking about how to present the argument in Harper's Magazine...Sobran submitted a brief favoring Edward de Vere as the author of the plays, but he did so with a narrative force that I hadn't before encountered, and I thought his arrangements of the facts and non-facts sufficiently plausible to at least warrant the courtesy of a reproof valiant, if not the counter-check quarrelsome or the lie with circumstance." — Lewis H. Lapham introducing his special Folio centerpiece on ALIAS SHAKESPEARE, April, 1999, Harper's Magazine
"In the commonality among the mass of material available on Shakespeare's authorship, there is a necessity to cover the same ground to introduce readers to the contention. After reading dozens of such books, one comes to regard them as a kind of familiar tapestry, some with one design brought forward, and others with items subdued or omitted. As the threads are drawn out one by one, the reader may with some pleasure appreciate the skill with which the author has selected his patterns and arranged his loom. In this long promised book, ALIAS SHAKESPEARE, Joseph Sobran has succeeded in creating a most attractive arras, through which we are invited to run our rapier and skewer the persistent man from Stratford whom traditionalists conflate with William Shakespeare.... On the author's own terms the book is persuasive: those who read this as their first introduction to the authorship question are likely to find it absorbing and thorough. As a mainstream book brought out by a major publisher, it deserves to be taken seriously, and will doubtless be mightily pounced upon by academia for that presumption.... Although there are many questions lurking in the shadows — exactly how did they bring off this imposture with William Shakespeare? Why was there no private correspondence mentioning Oxford as the author? — it is interesting to watch Mr. Sobran weave his tale of Oxford. Since his conclusion is one which can stand independently of them, one can only hope that he will continue, in another volume, to address the remaining questions." — John Mucci, The Elizabethan Review