The Special Case of Edmund Ironside
by Estelle Rosen
Joshua Stodart is an actor, director, and Shakespeare enthusiast based in Toronto. A recent graduate of Ryerson Theatre School, he founded Ale House in 2012 and has produced and directed three full and uncut Shakespeare plays. Recent acting credits include: Feste and Bassanio with Ale House; Mason in Journey's End (The Empty Room); and he will soon be starring as Dob in Dib and Dob (Carousel Players).
The current mainstream literary opinion on who Shakespeare was, what he did, and what and how he wrote is admittedly somewhat unbelievable. It’s really no wonder people can’t believe he existed! The “National Poet” was born to a glover, which is yes a little low class, but it’s possible he made Cheverail gloves – a phrase we clearly hear in Twelfth Night – which were preferred by the nobility. The young Shakespeare then went to school at the age of seven, uninterrupted, until he was 16. This would give him a greater knowledge of Latin and classical works than any modern major in those subjects today says Gary Taylor, editor of the Oxford Complete Works. He then used this profound knowledge to make gloves until he was… … 29, at which time – for no known reason – he decided to go to London and write 36 of the greatest plays ever. He wrote them consecutively, without revision, and without flaw.
- Legal and official documents that mention William or the members of his immediate and extended family.
- Personal description of Shakespeare by his contemporaries (either directly or – more common to the time – by sly allusions).
- Descriptions of life events by friends and family connected to William and recorded by biographers within the first 100 years of his death.
- The texts themselves and the various illusions to life and historical events as well as how they relate and influence each other.
- The official and legal documents are real but shed little to no light on the life of Shakespeare.
- The personal descriptions of Shakespeare by his contemporaries – especially those that happened before the time they declare Shakespeare was in London – are wrongly attributed and are actually referencing another person of rural origin that has still not been identified.
- The stories recorded by biographers near the time of Shakespeare’s death are mere gossip and rumour and cannot be trusted. This despite the fact that while stories vary about certain events, all do contain consistent nuggets of fact. Also any biographer writing today about someone who had passed less than 100 years ago would be completely in their right to interview and investigate the living ties – the friends and family – to the person in question.
- The texts themselves are the main source of material for mainstream literary critics but they are only concerned with the 36 texts published in the First Folio by Shakespeare’s peers seven years after his death. Any Tudor texts that resemble these plays but seem of inferior quality are deemed to not be authentic and are scooped into familiar categories and theories such as Bad Quartos, memorial reconstruction by actors, source plays, and derivative plays, which are all worth a Google.
A man named Eric Sams put together a complete lists of facts (pre-birth to 1594) derived from the sources mentioned above in his book The Real Shakespeare (1995). This is certainly the most thorough attack against the Shakespeare Orthodoxy and has been promptly ignored.