An extract from the book 40 Strange Groups

The Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship holds that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the plays and poems traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. It is recognized by Oxfordians and Stratfordians alike that writing about royal courts, Italy and law required a certain prerequisite level of education.

Edward De Vere fits the bill here since he is known to have graduated from Cambridge University at age 14, becoming master of arts at age of 16. Furthermore De Vere studied law at Gray’s Inn and had an extensive library underlining his qualifications to write as knowledgeably as Shakespeare about Bohemia, Denmark, and Scotland. At court, Edward De Vere was nicknamed “Spear-shaker” due to of his ability both at tournaments and because his coat of arms featured a lion brandishing a spear.

However, some conspiracy theorists maintain Edward de Vere wrote far more than just Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets. They believe he wrote Christopher Marlowe’s plays as well as the early poems of Ben Jonson, Edmund Spenser, and John Milton.

William Wimpole, a member of EdVS, understands the problems these ideas raise: “The evidence for these assertions is rather thin on the ground other than an educated man wrote the poetry and that Spenser’s and De Vere’s first names both begin with ‘E’. What is known is that Edward de Vere was a very quick writer and didn’t need much sleep, giving him many hours to write those wonderful pieces of high literature. It’s extremely difficult to prove this and naysayers always show how different all these writing styles are, but what they don’t understand is that Edward de Vere was a brilliant man who was capable of astonishing changes in literary style at the drop of a hat. One day he’d be Shakespeare, the next Spenser, and then Marlowe.”