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William Corbett's new book uncovers the secret authorship of the plays attributed to William Shakespeare and the Catholic message encoded within their pages.
"When I came across the phrase 'the stings and terrors of a guilty conscience' in an anonymous treatise from 1595 I couldn't help noticing the echo of Hamlet's famous 'to be or not to be' speech with the line 'the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune'. Not something you come across everyday, but when I discovered that the man who wrote it is cited again and again by different scholars as a major source for the plays, an examination of his life was called for, which revealed him in a sequence of unique places, places only the author could have been."
The man who wrote that striking line was Lewes Lewkenor, a renegade soldier who had spent a decade fighting for the Catholic Philip II of Spain. But Lewkenor was welcomed back to court by Burghley and soon began working as Elizabeth I's translator and receiver of foreign ambassadors. King James I created the position of Master of the Ceremonies for Lewkenor, placing him front-row at the recorded debut performances of many of the plays in the company of the very people they were written to please. We will examine how his contemporaries sniped at a clandestine writer who hid behind an actor, unraveling the sly allusions they made to a man they called 'Luck-Less' and 'Labeo' who hides like a cuttle-fish 'in the black cloud of his thick vomiture'. You can read about this on my Blog.
The Master of the Ceremonies covertly led the propaganda war at the heart of the Counter Reformation, speaking directly to his Catholic audience by inserting coded messages in the plays which he published using William Shakespeare as his amanuensis, his mask.
Lewes Lewkenor urged that his name should be kept from his work, unknown for four hundred years. Finally we have found the author that the world and the works deserve. This is a remarkable tale of deceit and intrigue at the highest level.
Posted November 5, 2012
No text was provided for this review.