Monday, February 11, 2008

Orbis Mundi -- Reading Shakespeare

Amy just told me about a great little web site that keeps track of the number of people reading "shakespeare"—Shakespeare’s Global Globe. This is so great! It would be really terrific if there was some way to contact other reading groups to share information about how everyone is reading. I've lead two reading groups for six years, plus Amy and I have the lengthy discussion group, The Understanders.

If you have a Shakespeare reading group, please let me know!


  1. I am presently discussing in my Brazilian blog the Controversy of Authorship in relation to the works attributed to William Shakspere. It is my intention to mention in the near futur the principal reasons of your excellent "Sweet Swan of Avon - Did a Woman Write Shakespeare?" to support the name of Mary Sidney Herbert.
    In fact, some authors require that a possible author of Shakespeare´s plays should have travelled throughout Europe, especially Italy and France. I have not seen in your book any reference to Mary Sidney´s travels. Could you kindly comment on this?
    My blog address: (

  2. Remo, would you mind copying and posting this blog to the Mary Sidney Group page so others can comment as well? It's an excellent question for a discussion. I'll post my response there as soon as your question goes up.

    The page is at


  3. Am right now reading Sweet Swan. It is ... compelling, but perhaps because I have been fantasizing for years about the Folio comment by Hemminges and Condell that they have rarely received a blot in his scripts. This means they had not observed the writing, and also may suggest a second copy from perhaps a feminine hand. There are two great walls around the Stratford garden, however. One is the simple fact that many called him the author and none, unless you count Robert Greene, named him a fraud. The other is the wide gap between the published writings of Lady Pembroke and all other pretenders and the Canon.

    But I still doubt, both Stratford and all others.

  4. Hi Robin,
    I have recently found a see through encryption in the last 2 pages of A Lovers Complaint, as observed on the online view provided by the John Rylands Library, of the last page of their 1609 Edition of Shake-speares Sonnets. The last line on the next to the last page reads: "That not a heart which in his level came,", 5 lines later on the last page (the reverse side of the page) is the line that reads: "When he most burnt in hart-wisht luxurie,". Looking through the word "hart" to the text on the reverse side of the page you will see the letters 'h a r t' perfectly lined up with the letters 'e a v e' in the word 'leaveld' in the line that reads: "Whose sightes till then were leaveld on my face,". The heading on the last page also changes from the consistent "A Lovers" to the final "The Lovers". This encryption appears to be intentional by the author (suggesting he/she was alive at the time of the printing) and he/she must have been working directly with G. Eld, the printer to accomplish this alignment. David Ewald

  5. Hi Robin,
    In my earlier comment, I described the 'heart in levell' encryption, along with the location of the best alignment of that encryption. There is another encryption based on the inscription: "Comendacons to my very kind and approved friend 23 M" at the bottom of that last page of A Lovers Complaint in the John Rylands copy. It points to the word 'poet' formed as a parallelogram in the text on the next to the last page, this is another see through encryption. I believe that Neville wrote Shakespeare, but I do find your theory compelling, and I am wondering if you have handwriting samples of Mary to compare with this inscription.

  6. Hi David,

    Those are interesting observations about A Lover's Complaint, and I thank you for taking the time to post them. It's especially curious to me because a year or two ago Brian Vickers published a book "proving" that A Lover's Complaint was actually written by John Davies of Hereford, who was Mary Sidney's secretary. There has been some speculation (undocumented) that Davies was in love with Mary Sidney, and I have suspected that Davies is the one who took the sonnets to press. Curiouser and curiouser.

    Yes, I have a book that has Mary Sidney's handwriting in it. I mean, it's a book of letters and a couple of the letters are in her autograph hand. Let me go get the name of the book : : : : : English Literary Autographs, by Greg. Please let me know if you think the inscription is from Mary!

    Thanks, David!