Sobran's — The Real News of the Month


A Note from the Editor

(Modified from SOBRANS, January 1998, page 3)

In the January 1998 issue, of SOBRAN’S I announced what I believe is an extremely important discovery: a previously neglected work by the man who was Shakespeare. Moreover, it tends strongly to confirm that he was actually, as I tirelessly contend, Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.

I think the evidence, even in a short summary, speaks for itself. The 40 sonnets of Emaricdulfe bristle with Shakespearean phrases. Whoever wrote the Shakespeare plays wrote these sonnets. And it could hardly have been the man from Stratford.

The title page and dedication identify the author of the poems only as “E.C., Esquire,” and the very little that has been written about them says only that E.C. has never been identified. Well, he has now. Even the dedication has echoes of the dedications of Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

It all sounds implausible, I know; even after I had found seemingly definitive proof, I kept asking myself whether I’d made some huge mistake. Sometimes it seemed like a dream I might be about to awake from. And yet every time I checked again, there it was.

I found Emaricdulfe nearly a year ago; until now I’ve kept it to myself to make sure I’d considered every angle. The same questions that must be occurring to you, dear reader, occurred to me.

Chiefly, of course, I wondered how all the scholars could have missed these poems, which have existed for more than four centuries and were published in 1595. I’ve learned not to put too much faith in the experts in any field, but I thought Elizabethan literature had been pretty thoroughly covered. Surely some doctoral candidate had pored over this work and noticed the abundance of Shakespearean touches and verbal parallels! Apparently not.

On reflection, it doesn’t seem so strange. Most scholars nowadays are like bureaucrats; they stay within the system, and they hardly notice anything outside it. The literary scholars believe that the name “William Shakespeare” means the son of Stratford, so it isn’t surprising that they should take “E.C., Esquire” at face value too. It’s really no more amazing than that lawyers, legal scholars, and Supreme Court justices have forgotten the plain meaning of the U.S. Constitution. You can overlook just about anything if you aren’t looking for it. (I regret to say I’ve also proved this myself, many times over. Several times just today, in fact.)

I’m still trying to piece the story together. Of Oxford we know that he had a towering literary reputation in his own day — Edmund Spenser was one of many who praised him lavishly — and also that he thought it was vulgar for a gentleman to publish his work under his own name. My guess is that Emaricdulfe was written many years before it saw print and had been privately circulated; it may have been among the poems Francis Meres had in mind in 1598 when he said that “Shakespeare” had passed his “sugared sonnets among his private friends.”

At some point in the future I’ll discuss other poems I have reason to believe Oxford wrote before he became “Shakespeare,” An incredible story is just beginning to unfold.

Joseph Sobran

The Mystery of “Emaricdulfe”

The Shakespeare Library

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