The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Campaigns Against Anonymous Film

The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford-upon-Avon, hometown of William Shakespeare, has today launched a one day protest coinciding with the premier of “Anonymous” at the London Film Festival. The protest consists of:-

  • Taping over nine road signs to blank out Shakespeare’s name – Instead of reading “Welcome to Warwickshire Shakespeare’s County” they read “Welcome to Warwickshire County”.
  • Covering the sign on “The Shakespeare” pub in Welford, where the Bard was said to have had his last drink.
  • Covering Shakespeare’s monument with a sheet

Why such action?

Because they feel that the film “Anonymous”, which puts forward the theory that Shakespeare’s work was actually that of the Earl of Oxford, is an attempt “to rewrite English culture and history”. In a BBC News report, Dr Paul Edmondson, head of knowledge and research at the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, said:

“This film flies in the face of a mass of historical fact, but there is a risk that people who have never questioned the authorship of Shakespeare’s works could be hoodwinked. Shakespeare is at the core of England’s cultural and historical DNA, and he is certainly our most famous export. Today’s activity barely scratches the surface, but we hope it will remind people of the enormous legacy we owe to William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon.”

As someone who grew up near Stratford-upon-Avon and who is a real Shakespeare buff I fully support this action. I have read many of the theories regarding Shakespeare’s work – Oxford, Bacon, Marlowe etc. – and none have them have made any sense to me. What do you think?


8 thoughts on “The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Campaigns Against Anonymous Film

  1. Well I’ve read up on the conspiracy theories and I don’t believe any of them. But I don’t think that protesting against the film is really necessary. It won’t achieve anything other than to give the film more publicity. Plus I mean, it’s fiction, so long as they don’t pretend otherwise there’s no point in getting annoyed. Shakespeare rewrote history creating the myth of Richard III hunchbacked murderor of the princes in the tower. it’s like Titanic, not 100% historically correct but if you want the facts read a history book, it doesn’t mean Titanic’s not a good film, it just means it’s not a documentary. Writers have artistic license, Shakespeare knew that and exploited that fact.

    1. I would say “it’s only a film”, except for the fact that Sony are producing lesson plans for History and literature teachers based on the movie and the Oxfordian theory so it is more than just a fictional movie.

  2. I just read a review of “Anonymous” on another site I visit regularly and they called it “unfocused but engaging”. Thankfully, the comments so far have blasted the movie, and yours truly had to comment too (due to their limit on how many words can be posted, I had to keep it brief):

    My avatar is of a young Elizabeth I at about the age of 13, before she became the iconic Virgin Queen. There are some who have made up stupid stories about her — and no, I’m not talking about whether she was a virgin or not. There’s one tale that claims she died very young and was replaced by a red-headed BOY who then goes on to be Elizabeth I. And nope, daddy Henry VIII didn’t figure it out, and neither did the doctors who examined her when she was being touted for marriage to foreign leaders! I’ve decided that tales like this are pushed by some who think only a man would have the ability to rule a nation and certainly not a brilliant, well-educated female. I’m as insulted by this myth as I am by this “Anonymous”. As a history buff, I’m angered by those who would rewrite history to suit their PC garbage; rework history to suit them (“DaVinci Code” anyone?), or the elite who believe a man of Shakespeare’s humble origins couldn’t possibly create such wonderful works. I don’t care if it IS engaging. I’m just sorry there’ll be a few out there that will this fiction as the truth!

    Now something else in the review left me with a raised eyebrow, so since we’re on the Elizabeth Files, I’m curious as to whether anyone knows what the heck this means (cleaning up my language from what I’m really thinking):
    Additionally, Vanessa Redgrave fully commits to her role as Queen Elizabeth I, a monarch whose sexual impropriety is explored in depth.

    Sounds like Shakespeare isn’t the only one getting a massive hit job performed on them!!!

  3. Hi Tina, replying to your final comment, its seems that we live in an age that to attract a large audience, or create interest in a subject, whether it be in film or book, about the past or present, script writers and authors grab attention from the majority by the use of the words sex, or sexuality, and all the others that suggest the same, whether it be true or not. How many times on the front pages of the national press do we see headlines of some public figure or pop/film stars sexual activity take precedence over things of national importance. Its a sales technique which is smutty, but sadly works, and I totally relate to your anger at the comment
    As for the conspiracy theory, to me thats all it is, a theory, and until there is unquestionable prove that Shakespeaer did not write his own works let them get on with it, you will always get groups of people taking history shaking it up and twistingt it round to cause controversy and get their ’15 minutes’ of fame, the more publicity these people are given the more it fires them on. I also think that to introduce lesson plans to be taught to students based on ‘a theory’ shows the poor state of our education system. The only time that this idea would be acceptable is when students have been taught about and studied Shakespeare in his full glory, and this conspiracy theory brought in as a point of discussion, not as a fact.

  4. Scholars unite! It will take all of us who have spent years researching to quiet the bruhaha! I will see the film and prepare myself for the onslaught of questions! I work in a library and I am the Shakespeare/Elizabethan specialist. What REALLY concerns me is Claire’s post regarding Sony – a film company – creating content to be taught in schools. Even a new teacher would be skeptical … I hope!

  5. Shakespeare was not some cow herder. He came from one of the most robust and well positioned men of his town. John was a moneylender, successful black marketeer, businessman and public official. So how precisely, is this such a poor beginning in life?

    The Authorship debate stems from the ignorant idea that WS was a lad from an inner city council estate, with a bad family background and illiteracy. Um, the truth could not be further from this.

    His father may have experienced financial troubles but he also had a lot of prestige and for housing at that time, not a bad home at all. William’s father was elected Bailiff, a very important role. William was related by his mother to the more ancient and noble line of the Ardens; a link used in his successful attempt to gain a coat of arms. John Shakespeare believed he had a right to hold arms too although his earlier attempt failed. But he believed he had that right, not a small matter at all.

    People who think Oxford was Shakespare are ignorant. In 1601 Oxford headed the jury that found Essex and Southampton guilty. But the jury also found another 4 men guilty. Two were beheaded. Two were hanged drawn and quartered. Out of the latter two ‘traitors’ – the charge was that one paid to have Richard III put on to ‘inspire’ the rebellion. It is clear Southampton was ethical, he refused to lie even to save either his own life or Essex’s. And Essex under pain of his soul, had to offer up any crimes he knew of. Which he did (an acquaintance for fraud). Yet Southampton/Essex must have known Oxford was ‘Shakespeare’ and ergo a treasonous instigator of the rebellion. A hidden traitor judging traitors. How? Southampton was Shakespeare’s Patron, and keenly connected to his theatre a view agreed/denied by Oxfordians at their pleasure.

    The only way to make this ‘work’ for Oxford is for Oxford to have been loved by Southampton beyond his reason (he was not, Essex was however), for Oxford to pay/not pay for a stooge, for Southampton to know/not know about the con, for Southampton to love/not love Essex etc etc etc. The list is so long. You have to double think every aspect depending on the line you read. Mind you, I’m writing a book on this singular event called 1601: Trade or Treason. The true trial of William Shakespeare. Because BOTH Shakespeare and Oxford are in this trial. And a tradesman would be let off probably, if favoured but a high court Earl would be held up for Treason. And ethical murder. Oxford let 5 men die as traitors (six convicted under his own jury) who all obligingly put their souls into hell to protect Oxford and his half finished anthology of public plays.

    The British Government should sue Sony.

    We live in a dark age my friends, keep the intelligentsia lights burning.

  6. Shakespeare lived in dangerous times. We have Fox News.

    William was 100% devoted to theatre, and a good businessman.

    “Gentle” is the single most consistently word used to describe him.

    As a commoner from a catholic family background, he knew how
    to avoid attracting attention. He lived his life true to his desires.

    The need to supplant Shakespeare with a Protestant of Royal birth
    is the entire basis of centuries of slander as to his origins/motives.

    He wrote for the stage. The physical stage.
    And the players of his Company. R E A D.

    Some noble twit with a grudge couldn’t attract a groundling.

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