Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Was Chapman Chapman?

I'm being plagued by emails from anti-Stratfordians again. I suppose it's because of all the current talk and writing about Shakespeare @ 450 years. What really gets me is this: the refusal of anti-Stratfordians ever to talk about the other dramatists of the time about whom we know far less than we know about Shakespeare and yet whose authorship of the plays attributed to them they never deny. Why do they not argue that Jonson didn't write the plays of Jonson or Chapman those of Chapman? George Chapman is an especially interesting case. He was the son of a mere yeoman. He was orphaned. There is no record of him getting *any* formal education, certainly no Oxford or Cambridge career. But then he turns up in the poetry and theatre world, writing works of formidable learning and obscurity. He even translates Homer! How could Chapman possibly have been Chapman? He MUST have been an aristocrat in disguise ... Why, or why, has no one ever seen this?

I've long gone past the point of re-entering these debates, having had my say in my 1997 book on the history of the idea of The Genius of Shakespeare. But if I ever met an anti-Stratfordian who had read every surviving play from the period 1580-1630 and who could produce compelling evidence that Chapman was Chapman, Dekker was Dekker, Heywood was Heywood, Jonson was Jonson, and so on for every dramatist other than Shakespeare, I might begin to listen to their doubts about Shakespeare.