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7 October, 2005

Sir Henry Neville, the author of Shakespeare's Plays?

Henry NevilleLast year, I wrote a blog entry - Shakespeare did not write his plays?, according to “Much Ado About Something” programme, Christopher Marlowe was the real author. Now, there are more evidences that William Shakespeare did not write his plays, but not Marlowe this time.

According to News.com.au, Team uncovers the 'real' Shakespeare (6 Oct 2005), Sir Henry Neville was the ‘real’ author of those greatest plays and verse in the English language under the name of Shakespeare.

They say that Neville, a rotund man nicknamed "Falstaff" by close friends, had the virtue - unlike Shakespeare, who lacked an appropriate background - of being an educated man of culture, a courtier and a well-travelled linguist.

(...)

His life has been found to mirror the evolution of the Bard's works so precisely that the authors believe that it cannot be dismissed as coincidence. In the history plays, Neville's ancestors - for instance, Richard Nevil, the Earl of Warwick in Henry VI, Part II - are described with an accuracy that could have been written only by someone with Neville's knowledge. His ancestors, such as John of Gaunt, in Richard II, are always mentioned sympathetically.

So who was Sir Henry Neville?
A quick search in Google gives me following results.
Sir Henry NEVILLE of Billingbere and Berkshire History: Biographies: Sir Henry Neville (1564-1615), both based on Leslie Stephens & Sidney Lee's "Dictionary of National Biography" (1891).
Sir Henry Neville; Author's of Shakespeare's Plays?

Also from the article:

Ms James, a former English lecturer at Portsmouth University, stumbled across Neville after cracking the secret of the mysterious dedication to Shakespeare's sonnets. She claims that hidden in the text is a clue that points to Neville, on which she will elaborate in her next book.

Full article of Team uncovers the 'real' Shakespeare (News.com.au, 6 Oct 2005)

Team uncovers the 'real' Shakespeare

THE real author of the works that have been attributed to William Shakespeare for more than 400 years has been unmasked, according to research.

A book to be published this month by a leading academic publisher, with a foreword by Mark Rylance, the artistic director of the Globe theatre, will claim that the greatest plays and verse in the English language were written by Sir Henry Neville (c1562-1615). He was a leading Elizabethan figure, though a minor character in today's history books.
Whether Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon birthplace will be consigned to a tourists' backwater and the vast publishing industry devoted to him condemned to pulp remains to be seen. But the authors, the academics Brenda James and William Rubinstein, are in no doubt that they have finally uncovered the "real Bard".

They say that Neville, a rotund man nicknamed "Falstaff" by close friends, had the virtue - unlike Shakespeare, who lacked an appropriate background - of being an educated man of culture, a courtier and a well-travelled linguist.

A wealthy landowner, he was a member of parliament for most of his life and an ambassador to France, belonging to one of England's great families and related to many monarchs depicted in Shakespeare's plays.

His life has been found to mirror the evolution of the Bard's works so precisely that the authors believe that it cannot be dismissed as coincidence. In the history plays, Neville's ancestors - for instance, Richard Nevil, the Earl of Warwick in Henry VI, Part II - are described with an accuracy that could have been written only by someone with Neville's knowledge. His ancestors, such as John of Gaunt, in Richard II, are always mentioned sympathetically.

The authors have unearthed in Lincolnshire's public records office a notebook of 1602 belonging to Neville while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London. Crucially, they say, it includes background notes for the procession in Henry VIII some 11 years before the play was produced.
They also discovered that, as a director of the London Virginia Company, a trading venture, Neville had access to a 20,000-word letter detailing the Bermuda shipwreck of 1609, "a base" for The Tempest two years later.

Shakespeare could not have known of this letter, they say, as releasing it might have devalued shares in the company. Such evidence was strengthened by Neville's letters, which they found to be "Shakespearean" in tone and vocabulary.

Ms James, a former English lecturer at Portsmouth University, stumbled across Neville after cracking the secret of the mysterious dedication to Shakespeare's sonnets. She claims that hidden in the text is a clue that points to Neville, on which she will elaborate in her next book.

Professor Rubinstein of University College Wales said: "The coincidences of Neville's dates and the chronology of the plays are so overwhelming, they are compelling in themselves - there are no awkward bits."

Shakespeare had no royal court experience and did not apparently ever visit continental Europe - yet his writings show him deeply familiar with court life, Elizabethan high politics and Italy and France.

In contrast, Neville, an almost exact contemporary of Shakespeare (1564-1616), travelled extensively to the Continent, visiting various places that featured in the plays.

From 1601-03, Neville was imprisoned in the Tower for his part in an attempt to overthrow the Queen. Professor Rubinstein said that the trauma - "his head was almost chopped off" - would explain the seminal change in the plays, when he moved from comedies and histories to tragedies and problem plays; a break unexplained in Shakespeare's life.

(picture of Henry Neville taken from Royal Berkshire History)

Related blog entry:
Shakespeare did not write his plays? (19 April, 2004)

Posted by Antony on 7 October 2005 9:57 AM | newstalk

more October 2005 blogs. (or 2005 blogs)
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comments
fatslapper
Posted by chimechanga on 2 November 2005 12:35 PM.
I am trying to prove if Francis Bacon wrote all of or half of Shakespeare plays
Posted by Jessica Walker on 24 October 2006 12:37 AM.
So you don't verify the accuracy of the comments on this blog. Why am I not surprised? Brenda James is just out to make money but it will take more than her ravings to rob a brilliant, hardworking writer of his life's work. I refer to William Shakespeare. Fat Henry was a radical and a convicted would-be regicide. Use your brain: how likely is that a would be regicide would write Macbeth? Not bloody likely. And Jessica? Good luck with that. Francis Bacon has been dismissed now even by the most fanatical Shakespeare deniers.
Posted by Antonia Hildebrand on 19 January 2009 8:29 AM.
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