From the front lines of the Shakespeare wars

When Mr. Maud journeys down to South Florida later this month to work for the Kerry campaign through election day, he will stay at his dad’s house. His dad, however, will be in Atlanta attending an Oxfordian conference — a meeting of what the Baltimore Sun calls “some of the most reviled scholars on the planet”:

because they assert that William Shakespeare of Stratford was not the person who wrote the group of plays and sonnets considered the greatest in the English canon.

“I hope you have tenure,” read one particularly nasty e-mail to Daniel Wright of Concordia University in Portland, “because you’ll never get it anywhere else.”

Oxfordians contend — much to the annoyance of at least one of my correspondents — that Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote Shakespearean masterpieces like Hamlet and King Lear. Among their supporters, according to the Sun, are “such intellectual giants as Sigmund Freud, Charles Dickens, Walt Whitman and, more recently, Supreme Court Justices John Paul Stevens and Harry A. Blackmun, who reversed their original opinions and ruled on the side of de Vere during a 1987 moot-court debate in Washington.”


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