Does Ian know?

According to author Clare Asquith, in her book Shadowplay, William Shakespeare was a political rebel who wrote in code – his “plays and poems are a network of crossword puzzle-like clues to his strong Catholic beliefs and his fears for England’s future.”.. or as this Washington Post review puts it “Papish Plots”.. although, personally, I agree with Kiernan Ryan in The Guardian

Embedding the plays in the culture that cradled them can teach us all sorts of invaluable things that enhance our understanding of them. But it’s hopeless at explaining why the glovemaker’s lad from Stratford still captivates audiences on every continent, while the other dazzling dramatists of his day do not.

  • bertie

    I’m a sucker for this sort of thing and will be buying the book and I fully expect to be completely engrossed in it and totally convinced.

    BTW is Shakespear the most famous person in the world ever, or is it Posh and/or Becks?

  • Alan McDonald


    It’s Muhammad Ali.

  • Fishfiss

    Good call Alan, it’s gotta either be Mohammed or Elvis.

  • T.Ruth

    I have always been aware of the possibility that William Shakespeare may have hidden much about himself when writing to avoid royal censure or public rejection. I think he would have experienced difficulty in standing out overtly against the literary establishment of the time and generally concealed his personal views and sympathies when writing. However he frequently skilfully gave insights into his personal opinions in an ambiguous way.
    For example in the “Merchant of Venice” one of his characters asks in the trial scene in which the character of Shylock would have been massively caricatured on stage,”Which is the merchant here and which the Jew?” revealing his personal view and opposition to the prevailing anti semitic attitudes of the times.


    I remember reading someones theory that Shakespeare was actually the earl of oxford–I think it related to the supposed presence on the oxford coat of arms of an arm shaking a spear.

  • Martin

    I always thought that whoever he was must have liked living on the edge–especially writing a play like king Lear-a senile old king whose relatives are squabbling for power—at a time when Elizebeth 1 was a senile old woman–and funnily enough she had relatives just waiting for her last gasp of this life.