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Shakespeare authorship – in favour of Henry Neville

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Author Brenda James attends the recent Henry Neville Symposium and outlines the arguments for Neville’s candidacy for the authorship of Shakespeare’s works

Saturday, June 7 was a landmark for Shakespeare studies. The case for Sir Henry Neville’s authorship of the Shakespeare plays was presented at a first whole-day Symposium devoted to his memory. Speakers included George Sayn, Dr John Casson, Dr Olivia Lousada and Brenda James, whose new book, Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code was published last month. Delegates comprised eminent guests, ranging from drama professionals to scholars and scientists, who find in Neville the most logical and best-evidenced candidate for the Shakespeare authorship.

Brenda James first published her Neville theory in The Truth Will Out (Longman, 2005) but her process of unravelling the Jacobean code within the Shakespeare Sonnets’ Dedication (which led to her discovery and subsequent research) appears for the first time in her new book.

The Symposium began with a scholarly and lively address from George Sayn. Next, Brenda explained the background to the Code which unexpectedly revealed Neville’s name. This was followed by Dr John Casson’s paper, concerning underlying psychological pointers to Neville’s authorship, witnessed throughout the ‘Shakespeare’ works.

The afternoon session began with Brenda James’ paper on her discovery of Neville’s Tower Notebook, with especial reference to how some of Neville’s notes impinge on the stage production of Henry VIII. The day ended with Dr Olivia Lousada’s stimulating workshop on Twelfth Night.

Neville’s candidacy for the authorship of Shakespeare’s works is supported by a convincing code decryption and by primary research. The chances of the name of a somewhat forgotten political philosopher turning up in the code which underlies the Dedication to Shakespeare’s Sonnets is remarkable enough – but this is further substantiated in that his life proceeds step by step in line with every aspect of Shakespeare’s works. All this would be virtually impossible, on a statistical basis alone, if Neville were not the true author.

Neville was born in Blackfriars and later lived in Billingbear House, Berkshire. He was descended from the Plantagenets and had access to all the relevant historical documents needed to construct the ‘Shakespeare’ history plays. His father-in-law (with whom he lodged near the London theatres for much of the year) edited Holinshed’s Chronicles.

Through Lord Burghley’s patronage, Neville became primarily a politician. But he was also a man of prodigious learning and a linguist. He was practical too, reading Astronomy at Oxford, and learning more science from the books of his kinsmen, the Digges. He ran an ironworks from the 1580s to 90s – a business which he inherited from his great uncle, Sir Thomas Gresham (who had been shipping cannons to the King of Denmark for use at Elsinore – the setting for Hamlet). Metalworking imagery abounds throughout the plays.

Neville became English Ambassador to France for 15 months (hence a reference to the river Seine and Paris in the code). Then he was imprisoned in the Tower of London, alongside his friend, the Earl of Southampton, following the Essex uprising – at this time, under the stress of imprisonment, the plays suddenly turn to tragedy.

Officer in the Virginia Company and a member of the literary ‘Mitre Club’, every aspect of Neville’s life and knowledge substantiates the Code’s claims – the comprehensive list of circumstantial, experential and educational ‘overlapping’ between Neville’s life and the interests and knowledge encapsulated in the Shakespeare plays is overwhelming.

Since the publication of The Truth Will Out – which opens with an examination of the authorship question, by Professor William D Rubinstein – Brenda has discovered yet more evidence of Neville’s authorship. A selection of this evidence is contained in Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code, and further research is set out in The Journal of Neville Studies. Experts from various fields are contributing to the Journal, in which Brenda also publishes her own ongoing research.

As James remarks: “The circumstantial evidence on its own – which is much more weighty than that mentioned briefly here – is already great enough for George Orwell to “call the secret service”, but when it is coupled with documentary evidence, plus the Code’s decipherment, then it is well-nigh impossible to ignore or gainsay. Logically and topologically speaking, Neville is Shakespeare.”

* Details of Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code and also of The Journal of Neville Studies can be found on www.henryneville.com.

* Read the ‘For’ side of the Shakespeare authorship debate here.

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