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New York Times (10 February 2002)

As of 8:00 a.m. on Sunday 10 February 2002 I received my first email regarding the NYT articles, so I decided to set up this webpage for responses.

First, my personal response. I am appalled by the lack of balance. It is as if the NYT science editor had been approached by Creationists and decided to devote a feature article to Creationism without giving the right of reply to spokespersons for Darwinian Evolution.

The NYT gives the impression - in fact virtually declares - that doubts about the identity of William Shakespeare are rife in university and college English departments. To my knowledge there is not a single English department in the United States or Britain which is divided over the authorship issue. In the entire United States there is only one English Department in which the issue is both seriously and systematically entertained: this is Professor Daniel Wright's department at Concordia University in Portland, Oregon. I do not know for certain, but Professor Wright tends to give the impression that his entire Department shares his belief that Edward de Vere was Shakespeare - apparently, no division there. Additionally, I personally know of perhaps four professors of English in the entire United States, and none in the UK or Ireland, who seriously entertain "alternative" theories about the true identity of William Shakespeare.

The documentary evidence that William Shakespeare of Stratford upon Avon wrote the poems and plays attributed to him is abundant and incontrovertible. The only way his authorship can be challenged is by attacking historical documents - which Oxfordians do with abandon.

The documentary evidence that Edward de Vere wrote the poems and plays attributed to William Shakespeare is nil. The only way his authorship can be asserted is to denigrate Stratford-upon-Avon, Elizabethan grammar-school education, and William Shakespeare personally, and/or to invent or distort evidence - as for example, to engage in wild specultion about paintings (as if they had started out life as photographs), or to exaggerate correlations between Oxford's Geneva Bible and the Shakespeare plays (correlations which have been absolutely denied by established scholars in the field).

Finally, I wish to record my anxiety over engaging in this debate. In the past, I have been threatened with lawsuits by Oxfordians for expressing my objections to their positions or their particular arguments. Moreover, Oxfordians are notorious for suing one another. I will post here any legal threats I receive in response to statements I make on the authorship issue here or elsewhere.

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