William Shakespeare, we are told, was born of illiterate parents, schooled only in grade school, and apprenticed as a butcher’s boy. Five years after getting married, saddled with three children, he decided to leave his family and hometown for London. Once in the great city he began writing plays, and joined an established acting company that would perform them. His plays displayed knowledge of English, French, Greek and Roman history, legal and medical principles, military and naval terms, falconry, horsemanship, and terms only used on the Cambridge campus. In short, the plays exhibited everything outside of his realm of experience.
After a long career he headed home where he put the sixth and last signature of his life on his will. His will left household items, including a bed, but no books, and notably no folio of work. His death received no notice either in Stratford or London until years later.
While writers are generally voracious readers, book lovers, diary keepers and keepers of correspondence, the actual individual known as William Shakespeare was the opposite. He most likely couldn’t read or write, never owned a book, never kept a diary, and it wasn’t until long after his death that anyone got the idea to celebrate the “playwright.” It was also years after his death that a “folio” of his work was put together. This was not an original folio as none of those are known to exist.
Certainly the original plays were written, and copied, yet none have ever surfaced. With such a large body of work, this is at least suspicious.
Trying to put William Shakespeare in the role of the writer of “his” plays was and is impossible, and soon the effort attracted detractors who believed Shakespeare himself could NOT have been the author. Among them Walt Whit-man, Mark Twain, John Greenleaf Whittier, Benjamin Disraeli and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
The man believed to be the bard was born in 1564. Queen Elizabeth I had been on the throne since Jan. 15, 1559 and ruled with a capricious but iron hand. On a whim she could arrest or execute anyone from her court to her countryside. Her court included Sir Francis Bacon born in 1561, Christopher Marlowe born in 1564, Edward de Vere, the Earl of Oxford born in 1550 and Henry Wriothesley the Earl of Southampton, born in 1573. It was a full-time job keeping Elizabeth happy. Sir Walter Raleigh was sent to the Tower for impregnating one of her ladies-in-waiting. The Earl of Essex was punished for getting married a second time and soon after, for his role in putting on the play Richard II, was beheaded. Her physician, Ruy Lopez, was suspected of plotting against her and was drawn and quartered.
Speaking freely had its price.
None of William Shakespeare’s plays included his name until 1598, although they would after that year. If producing Richard II was treason, then why was the writer allowed to go unpunished? It may have been that Essex was actually considered the author. Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, was also a candidate. He wrote plays, owned a theatre, and had been to Italy. Oxford, some believe, faked his death on June 24, 1604. It was the feast day of St. John the Baptist, a sort of patron saint to esoteric knowledge. James I had eight Shakespearean plays performed as a tribute to Oxford.
While both Essex and Oxford are suitable candidates, with education and worldly knowledge, the most common candidate for the bard’s works is Sir Francis Bacon.
The prolific Bacon could not have written Richard II without fear of the chopping block. He did have the knowledge attributed to a young butcher’s apprentice. He studied at Cambridge, studied law at Grey’s Inn, was fluent in languages, the law, loved cryptology and invented his own sophisticated code. He was also, many believe, a quiet homosexual who surrounded himself with handsome young men. One of these was Henry Wriothesley.
In 1592, the first recorded “Shakespearean” play was dedicated to Henry. The sonnets, in which the poet speaks of his love for the youth, were also dedicated to Wriothesley. Coincidentally it was in 1592 that Henry Wriothesley became a patron of William Shakespeare. More likely this is the year that Shakespeare and Bacon made a deal. In 1592 Shakespeare received a large amount of money and bought the second largest house in Stratford. He bought other property as well, traded commodities, was party to lawsuits and collected taxes.
A deal, if made by Shakespeare and Bacon, served them both well. Sir Francis Bacon avoided the executioner’s axe and William Shakespeare became a landowner. The two men could not be more different. Bacon was educated, worldly, sensitive and genuinely interested in changing his world. Shakespeare could barely sign his name, was brash, greedy, and had few qualms about leaving his wife and children. A typical Stratford man might have a working vocabulary of 400 words, while a Cambridge graduate might have one of 4,000 words. The author of the works attributed to Shakespeare had a vocabulary of 20,000 words.
A Poet by Any Other Name
Why did Bacon pick Shakespeare to “front” his work?
When Bacon studied at Grey’s Inn, he was the driving force behind an invisible Knighthood called the Order of the Helmet. The members dedicated themselves to an ancient goddess, the Pallas Athena, who was depicted with helmet and spear. Her epithet was “the Shaker-of-the-Spear.” Meeting a country bumpkin by the name of Shakes-spear might have seemed almost divine intervention. Bacon’s motto was Occulta Veritas Tempore Patet meaning “Hidden truth comes to light in time.” In the last five years of his life, notably after the death of Elizabeth, he could be more open in his writings. Notably he penned his New Atlantis, searching for a peaceful world where royalty ruled as a result of wisdom. Under King James he also translated what would be called the King James version of the Bible. In Psalm 46 the forty-sixth word down from the first verse is “Shake” while the forty- sixth word from the end is “Spear.” He also authored the Sylva Sylvarum discussing numerous scientific experiments including one to preserve documents in mercury and another on creating artificial springs.
England was a latecomer in the rush to colonize the Americas. It was Elizabeth’s astrologer, Dr. John Dee, who convinced her she had rights in the New World. While the illustrious John Dee would serve well as a model for a character in the Hobbit, he did convince her of the need of a strong navy, as well as the “fact” that Arthur’s Avalon was indeed America. Intellectually she lived vicariously through her wizard. Dee, a magician and an alchemist, wrote on Rosicrucianism and Navigation. His estate held 4000 books and a “magic mirror” to tell of the future.
The queen’s adventurous side was lived through the likes of Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh. She sent them to conquer lands, steal treasures and explore the seven seas.
When Elizabeth’s life and reign expired, Bacon’s status was elevated. He was able to get King James to be more serious in efforts across the ocean. Bacon made sure that he and his circle were granted lands in the New World. They shared grants in Newfoundland and Nova Scotia, and further powers as part of the Virginia Company. With Bacon as Lord Chancellor the Jamestown settlement was planted in Virginia. Named for the “Virgin” queen Elizabeth, the seal of Virginia that has survived to modern times depicts Athena. She is the ruler, complete with helmet and spear, of the land where her wisdom will prevail.
In Bacon’s New Atlantis?
There was a great deal of secrecy in the settling of the colonies. The American “New Atlantis” was chosen to allow people to grow intellectually with fear of state and church repression. It would also serve as the repository of knowledge of those secret societies that grew around Bacon. In an era where Copernicus was afraid to publish his theory of the sun as the center of the universe, there was much that Bacon and his circle kept secret. The original texts of the plays attributed to Shakespeare might have been just a small part of a secret Masonic/Rosicrucian library.
In 1911 Doctor Orville W. Owen, who had spent years decoding Bacon’s ciphers, mounted an expedition to England. Under the Wye River he expected to find such a secret library. A secret vault was found. It however, was unfortunately empty. Some-one had stopped the river’s flow long enough to build the vault, conceivably fill in, and empty it again. Employing such hydraulic abilities was nothing new. The body of King Lear had similarly been placed in a vault under the river Soar. The body of Attilla was safe under the Busento River in Italy. Nine years later, Burrell Ruth, who had followed Dr. Owen’s work, believed the original folio of Bacon’s Shakespearean works had been moved to Nova Scotia in the new world. In Mahone Bay, underwater booby traps had been placed by builders adept at the science of hydraulics. Mercury flasks had been found on Oak Island where the longest treasure search in history had been underway. A search has now been in progress for two hundred years.
In recent years the owners of half of Oak Island have broadened their search to other islands in the bay. Tunnels are believed to connect more than one island and a spiral staircase leading underground has been said to be on an island nearby to Oak Island.
The Virginia Company established in 1606 was made up of Bacon and his inner circle. Interestingly enough it included both Virginia and a new colony called Bermuda. The first mention of Bermuda is in The Tempest, a Shakespeare play on a shipwreck on a small island. The Virginia Company would also engineer a place to house its own secrets. Among the first jobs completed at Jamestown was the construction of an underground repository and, over this vault, the first Jamestown church. The vault was used to house documents brought over in 1635 until Jamestown itself was seen as less in need of a defensive position. In 1676 the documents were moved to a new vault located in Bruton parish. The area was known as the Middletown Plantation and later would become Williamsburg. A brick church was built and twenty feet underneath, the vault was placed. This church did not survive, and a newer church which survives today is on the Duke of Gloucester Street and is both a tourist attraction and an Episcopal Church. Somewhere under the churchyard lies a spiral staircase leading to the vault.
In the 1920s the Rockefeller Foundation bought much of Williamsburg to create a tourist destination. Oddly enough they also bought Stratford-on-Avon which had already become such a destination. The actual site of the Bruton vault was owned by the Anglican church and could not be bought; instead it was given to the United States government.
In recent years a group called Sir Francis Bacon’s Sages of the Seventh Seal has sought permission to excavate the site, particularly under a pyramid-shaped structure known as the Bray monument. Fletcher Richman, a Baconian scholar, believes that beneath the monument, accessed by the underground spiral stairway, is a vault containing both the writings of Bacon and others that can have significant implications for the future. Permission so far has not been granted. Richman says this is just one of many hidden libraries.
For now, they remain hidden.