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De Vere’s Disguise?


Roland Emmerich’s movie Anonymous is delightful entertainment, whether or not one accepts the basic premise that “William Shakespeare” was the pen name of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

Scriptwriter John Orloff has researched this controversy for ten years. He has a thorough understanding of Elizabethan England’s power struggles, which brings his fiction closer to the truth than traditional legends of the Bard. Those, too, are fiction — based on speculations about the author, whose biography is woefully scanty and mysterious.

My own research over the past two decades has led me to the same conclusion: William Shakespeare was the pen name of Edward de Vere. Scriptwriter Orloff does change some dates and characters for dramatic effect, and the result is great drama – not a documentary. Some American academics have been publishing articles to undermine this movie, notably Prof. James Shapiro, whose articles contain many falsehoods and ad hominem attacks on those who hold differing views.

I hope Santa Barbara film-goers will not be misled by academia’s slavish adherence to tradition, or by the tendency of some reviewers to argue for the orthodox theory instead of recognizing the excellence of the movie.

The photography is awesome. The casting is ingenious, with Vanessa Redgrave playing the aging Queen Elizabeth, and her daughter Joely Richardson playing her younger, more passionate self.

Helen Heightsman Gordon is the author of The Secret Love Story in Shakespeare's Sonnets

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