Shakespeare's birthday

I’ve been trying in vain to get the IMDB to change the official dates for William Shakespeare’s birth and death. Most official biographies of WS mention that he was born April 23, 1564 and died April 23, 1616–the same day Miguel de Cervantes died. The truth is that Cervantes died on April 23rd but Shakespeare died on May 3rd–England was still using the Gregorian calendar. Since we correct the birthdays of our Founding Fathers’, we should do the same for Shakespeare.

I should note that we don’t exactly know when Shakespeare ws born. He was baptized on April 26th (May 6th), but I suspect that the reason people picked April 23rd as his birthday had less to do with the tradition of a child being baptized three days after he was born than the fact that he died so close to his baptism day. How appropriate and symmetrical that this great writer die on the same day he was born. I would have no problem if the IMDB listed W.S.'s birthday as also being May 3rd.

Anyway, is there anyone out there who can verify if I’m right about Shakespeare’s real birth and death day being May 3rd?

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way…”
–Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit

I don’t believe there’s any record as to the actual day of Shakespeare’s birth. Only his baptism date is known. People didn’t keep records as accurately in the 16th century.

The Gregorian calender discrepency is a valid point, but people don’t concern themselves about it.

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

April 23 also happens to be St. George’s Day. The English think it’s pretty cool that their greatest writer was born and died on their national saint’s day. My guess is that a movement to readjust Shakespeare’s birthday would NOT meet with much favor in most quarters. But hey, you can celebrate it when you want to.

“The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.”

  • Bill Watterson

As long as you do celebrate it. An otherwise seemingly intelligent friend insists Shakespeare never existed. Not that the Man from Avon didn’t write all those plays (which he certainly did), but that he never existed. Showing my friend the evidence published in books does nothing to alter his faith. Touching, really…

Quibbling about his birthdate while glibly accepting the authorship of the “Man from Avon” is, IMHO, straining at a gnat and swallowing a camel. Although it is a topic for Great Debates (and it’s a great one, it’s been going on for centuries), there are plenty of good reasons for doubting the traditional attribution. Harper’s magazine had a good summary recently and Joseph Sobran has written a new book supporting his contention that the actual author is Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford.

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

Aside: Pluto, isn’t it “Vandelay Industries”?

(Take this thread to Cuba!)

JoeBlank – Yes, but IIRC that’s what George said as he came running out of the bathroom. Kramer was saying, “What-de-lay Industries? No man, you’re waaay off!”

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

“And you wanna be my latex salesman?”

“Joseph Sobran has written a new book supporting his contention that the actual author is Edward De Vere, the Earl of Oxford.”

Sure, and Eric von Daniken has written a book supporting his contentions; Francis Hitching keeps on writing books supporting his, and you can pick up some David Icke works cheap.

Extra kudos to “Shakespeare in Love” for the seemingly innocuous line “Are you the man who writes William Shakespeare’s plays?” A poke in the eye of dreary conspiracy theorists everywhere.

The tedious Oxford theory is driven, in large part, by a quack descendent of de Vere and a bunch of antisocial crossword enthusiasts who pore over inscriptions to find hints and clues. Their claims are borne of snobbishness and obsession and deserve about as much respect as the claims that Lewis Carroll was Jack the Ripper. Indeed, the sort of tactics they use are reminiscent:

For example, Sonnet 76 states, “That every word doth almost tell my name.” When the letters of “every word” are rearranged to EYWORD VER, they resemble EDWARD DE VERE.

Yeah, right.


I’m almost positive Cecil addressed this, and blasted a PBS show for giving the story credence. But I can’t find the item in the archives.

P.S.: Paul is dead, man. Miss him, miss him.

Like I said, this really belongs in the Great Debates but I take offense at being lumped in with Von Daniken. These are not groundless speculations. There are certainly valid cases to be made for alternate authors and there are certainly problems with the Man from Avon. I cited a couple of references if you want to check it out. If you just want to mindlessly regurgitate what you learned from your Author’s cards don’t cite it as fact.

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

I’m unconvinced that de Vere is the One True Shakespeare, but from what I’ve read, there is no direct proof that the Stratford man wrote the works attributed to him.

So what’s the big deal? It’s true that advocates of rivals to Stratford have made some outrageous claims, but what I don’t get is why supporters of Stratford are so threatened by the mere suggestion that the man they picture is not the genuine article. Why is it so important? We don’t know much about Homer and what real difference does it make? We know him through his works.

I don’t know - it’s a mystery.

Official Poster of the Millenium

Because the Oxford/Baconians are intellectually dishonest. (Even here – someone says the debate has been going on for centuries, when actually it’s been less than 150 years since anyone raised any question).

The arguement, shorn of all the obfuscation, boils down to : If Shakespeare hadn’t written the plays, then Oxford might possibly have done it.

However, they have yet to provide any evidence that Shakespeare hadn’t written the plays. They merely obscure the issue with suppositions and assumptions that have been refuted time and time again.

They also have yet to provide any evidence that Oxford wrote the plays. Again, it’s mere supposition and wild-ass assumptions.

Finally, since they are proposing something entirely unique in the history of literature (an author pretending to be another living person and that information not coming out during the lifetime of either the two of those who knew them), they need more than mere supposition to prove their case. They need evidence – a letter from Oxford referring to his writing the plays, for instance, or a memoir of someone who was part of the theater company and who mentions Shakespeare wasn’t the writer. They haven’t provided it, and all the handwaving in the world only goes to hide the fact.

(And please, don’t go into that tired argument that there’s no proof Shakespeare wrote the plays. Every one of them says “by William Shakespeare” at the top. Occam’s razor does the rest.)

Finally, the reasoning and rhetorical tricks that are the stock in trade of the “Oxford as Shakespeare” clique are the same methods used by scum like holocost deniers. While I’m certain the Oxfordians aren’t in the same category or same level of abhorrance, they are, by their arguments from supposition and false assumption, doing their part to legitimize the sort of bogus historical reasoning that leads to the ability to think you can rewrite history on the flimsiest of pretexts. If we can “prove” Oxford as Shakespeare using no concrete evidence whatsoever, then there’s nothing wrong in “proving” that millions of people weren’t deliberately killed by the Nazi, either.

Read “Sundials” in the new issue of Aboriginal Science Fiction.

Oh come now! Because I have the temerity to suppose that there are legitimate questions about the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays first I believe in extraterrestrials and now I deny the Holocaust.

Please note that at no point have I contended that anyone other than William of Stratford is, in fact, the author of the plays. I have only said that controversy exists. I have mentioned one alternative theory, the Earl of Oxford. For a concise summary of the controversy in this case see .

Are the posters on this topic really so intellectually insecure that merely challenging their beliefs drives them to attack my integrity and intelligence? Because I am persuaded by someone’s argument and not persuaded by theirs, I am accused of “rewriting history on the flimsiest of pretexts”?

Oh wait! Let me summarize their argument for you:

Well, now I am convinced! You know, a guy named Mark Twain wrote some books, too. So let’s debate his birthday! George Eliot turned out some wonderful works. I wonder when he was born?

And Occam’s razor only states that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily (my emphasis). This is usually paraphrased as “the simplest explanation is probably true”. A better statement would be “the simplest explanation that covers all the facts is probably true”. Some inconvenient facts regarding the Stratfordian view include how a rural farmer, whose writings in Avon are barely literate, could suddenly transform himself into an accomplished playwright with extensive knowledge of courts, seamanship, and foreign lands.

So buck up! I’m sorry if your idol has clay feet, but the controversy exists. You don’t have to like it, you don’t have to believe it, but to deny its existence is intellectually dishonest.

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

Keep in mind that my post was not questioning who wrote the plays. In my opinion, it was clearly William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon. What I was saying is that although the English love the fact that Shakespeare was born (close enough) and died on April 23rd, that isn’t the right date because the Julian calendar was in effect in Shakespeare’s day. We don’t celebrate Washington’s birthay on February 11th. I think the IMDB should change the date of Shakespeare’s birth and death to the date it would be on our calendar–May 3rd.

“I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way…”
–Jessica Rabbit,Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Sorry for the hijack, Ed. You’re right, there is an inconsistency in reporting pre-Gregorian dates. But I doubt you could get the IMDB to care. After all we can’t even get the date of the new millenium right. :slight_smile:

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”

Yes, but Mr. Clemens and Ms. Evans didn’t deliberately try to pass their books off as the work of another living person. They simply used pen names. Whereas, if the Earl of Oxford wrote the works attributed to Shakespeare, he would have been appropriating the name of a real person who was well known in theatrical circles. Shakespeare’s whole acting company, at a minimum, would have to be in on the secret; it would have been obvious to them that the man they worked with was not the author of the plays. The fact that none of Shakespeare’s contemporaries (including Ben Jonson, who was a veritable fountain of scurrilous literary gossip) ever suggested that anybody else wrote the plays is an overwhelming piece of evidence in favor of his authorship.

… Sorry, Edward. Maybe we should take this to GD.

“The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us.”

  • Bill Watterson

Much as I like conspiracies - and I do,

the argument that William Shakespeare, the documented actor and commodity speculator did not write the plays attributed to him, lacks any substantial credibility.

Evidence that the Earl of Oxford wrote these plays (and poems)lacks even less evidence than the claim from the 19th century that Sir Francis Bacon wrote them.

Much more is known about de Vere (or Bacon)than Shakespeare but there is nothing about the documented Shakespeare that indicates that he did not write these plays for the acting company he partly owned and worked for.

What is more amusing is how intelligent people, some from humble origins like Mark Twain, could doubt that this “country bumpkin” from Stratford, could not write these works.

Leaving aside whether Shakespeare collaborated in any of his works (like that illegitimate son of a peasant woman and an actuary, Leonardo da Vinci), consider that neither Twain nor Hemingway attended college, Faulkner dropped out but Erich Segal both completed his graduate work and is an accomplished scholar.

(Sounds like a great debate to me.)

My point was only to mention that the controversy exists. I certainly don’t have anything to add to the debate. All I know is what I’ve read.

Just to show you how fair I am I will point out that the greatest obstacle to the Oxford theory, IMHO, is that Oxford died in 1604! So not only did he publish plays under a pseudonym, but he did so posthumously!

Rather than send this topic to the Great Debates, IMHO, it would be better to refer anyone interested to the extensive literature already out there. Yahoo has a category devoted to the topic – search for “Shakespeare AND Authorship”. Here is a web page that seems to be reasonably well-balanced:

Unsurprisingly, finding an article that doesn’t pre-suppose the answer to the question is difficult. Much of the Anti-Stratford information is disseminated by the Oxford Society (guess who they’re rooting for!).

“Vandelay!! Say Vandelay!!”