Francis Bacon Makes Comeback as Shakespeare Authorship Candidate
New Book by Christina Waldman Explores Whether Bacon is Bellario in Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice'
Waldman's book explores Bellario and all things related: who is he, why is he in the play, and what can we learn from him about law and Shakespeare?
In 1935, a law student (who later became an Assistant Secretary of the Navy under President Truman and an industrialist)
In 1935, Andrews, a Texas law student, was taking a summer Shakespeare course at the University of Colorado from Princeton's Prof. Duncan Spaeth who suggested he take two weeks and write a paper on Shakespeare's use of equity in The Merchant of Venice.
There were two competing legal systems in 16th century England, law and equity. Each had its own courts. Back in 1935, it was more common to find a United States law school teaching equity as a legal system than it would be today. Most states have merged law and equity into a single system. The word "equity" can have a variety of meanings, including basic fairness.
Andrews' manuscript was rediscovered in library storage and published in 1965 as Law versus Equity in 'The Merchant of Venice' (Boulder: University of Colorado Press, 1965). Waldman saw this book in her college library at Southern Illinois University around 1980, filed with the dissertations. Andrews had paraphrased Act IV, Scene 1, the famous trial scene, translating it into modern courtroom language--not to detract from the poetry, but to assist in its understanding.
When Waldman realized from Andrews' presentation just how much law there was in that scene, she became convinced that, whoever Shakespeare was, he had to have been a lawyer. She never forgot that book.
Thirty-five years later, she set out to write a brief review of Andrews' book for SirBacon.org, a website devoted to sharing information on Francis Bacon, particularly as to authorship. Just as Andrews' "two-week" paper turned into an 88-page book, so Waldman's "short book review" turned into a 310-page book.
For her research into Bacon and law, Waldman studied the writings of Daniel R. Coquillette, Professor of Boston College Law School and Visiting Harvard Law School Professor. Modern attention on Bacon as a jurist had been scant, until Prof. Coquillette's book, Francis Bacon, appeared in 1992, published by Stanford University Press. In addition, Waldman relied upon Prof. Coquillette's articles on the influence of the civilian (Roman) law on English common law lawyers of the 16th-17th centuries.
For many years, the question of who wrote the plays of Shakespeare was considered closed: it was William Shaxpere of Stratford, of course! However, that is changing. In 2019, Routledge published Dr. Barry R. Clarke's book, Francis Bacon's Contribution to Shakespeare:
And, in 2018, Edward Everett Root published Prof. William Leahy's book, My Shakespeare, The Authorship Controversy (London: Edward Everett Root, 2018). Brunel University (London) Shakespeare Studies Professor Leahy's book is an anthology of essays by scholars, each focusing on a different candidate for Shakespeare authorship: Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, Christopher Marlowe, Henry Neville, and Mary Sidney Herbert. http://www.eerpublishing.com/
Elsewhere, scholars have explored the possible contributions of other candidates, including John Florio; Roger Manners, the 5th Earl of Rutland and his wife Elizabeth; and Emilia Lanyer Bassano, a mistress of Lord Hunsdon's.
"Orthodox" Shakespeare scholars generally no longer contest the fact that the plays are full of legal allusions and references. In addition, they now concede there has been collaboration by a number of playwrights on several Shakespeare plays.
Francis Bacon's Hidden Hand also publishes, for the first time, a 1992 forensic handwriting report which concluded that a letter in Bacon's handwriting matched, to a high degree of probability, the handwriting in a fragment of a draft scene for Henry IV which was found in binder's waste in 1988 (discussed in Waldman's book, Francis Bacon's Hidden Hand, p. 237).
Francis Bacon's Hidden Hand may be purchased from Algora Publishing, https://www.algora.com/
Christina G. Waldman is a lawyer/writer in Buffalo, New York.
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Page Updated Last on: Jun 13, 2019