Letters: Shakespeare's plays

Absurd theories about Shakespeare
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The Independent Online

The doubters are correct in thinking that William Shakespeare did not write the plays, but the film Anonymous is quite wrong in supporting the claims of Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford, to be the author ("Rylance defends Shakespeare film's right to question identity of Bard", 31 October).

The works attributed to William Shakespeare were actually written by Adam Tumble-thwaite, a old farm labourer from near Stratford-on-Avon. There is no evidence that Adam Tumblethwaite wrote these works, or even that he existed, but this is because the truth has been hushed up and all evidence destroyed.

The burgers of Stratford thought it would be a slur on their town, as well as ruinous for the reputation of literature, if it became known that such an uneducated, barely literate person wrote these sublime plays and poems. So they looked around and their eyes lighted on a young, reasonably educated, upwardly socially mobile son of the town who had gone to London to seek his fortune. And so the conspiracy was hatched that jobbing actor William Shakespeare was the author of the works that now bear his name.

Andrew Belsey

Whitstable, Kent

It seemed strange to see The Independent giving space on successive days (28 and 29 October) to gratuitous attacks on people who may doubt the works of Shakespeare were written by a man Shakspere from Stratford who never used the name Shakespeare for himself.

On Friday, in the Books section, Boyd Tonkin uses the words "poppycock" and "grisly snobs" as language suitable for his spleen. On Saturday, Philip Hensher (in the Opinion section) uses the word "balls" to set off on a tirade of inverted snobbery, not assisted by trying to dumb down the knowledge of Shakespeare, which includes knowledge of Italy that has amazed Italian scholars, and knowledge of law that has impressed lawyers, and knowledge of English vocabulary and languages – Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, Greek for sources not then translated – that amazes students of the Elizabethan period.

One might believe the man from Stratford wrote the works of Shakespeare, but some trace of him having the ability to do so or having done so would do better than a belief that Shakespeare was uneducated.

Tony Pointon


Why bother? The plays are there to be enjoyed – so let's enjoy them. (PS: It was Shakespeare wot did them all. PPS: Not forgetting Edward III )

Gloria Moreno-Castillo

New Malden, Surrey

When hospital staff lose the habit of caring

In reporting yet another horrific tale of failings from the front line of the NHS ("Inspectors find culture of abuse in NHS trust's maternity services", 28 October), Jeremy Laurance correctly identifies the source of the problem when he refers to NHS staff "losing the habit of caring".

One of the reasons that I was not sad to leave the NHS after 30 years of service, 18 of them as a consultant neurosurgeon, was that management was making it increasingly difficult to deliver appropriate care to vulnerable children and young people for whom I was responsible. From the experience of my subsequent work as a barrister who investigates allegations of adverse events in hospitals, I can confirm that lack of care lies behind many substandard and fatal outcomes.

Whereas changes in working practices, such as team working, may have become inevitable, it is a matter of profound concern that any, or any proper, sense of caring is sadly absent in many of the cases that I encounter. All too frequently, I, or one of Her Majesty's Coroners, is told that the patient, or the deceased, was under the "care" of "the team", but no person can identify which member of the team cared sufficiently, or at all, to undertake fundamental tasks that might have led to a better outcome.

Many patients and their families can accept with fortitude the vicissitudes inflicted by disease or unpleasant therapies, but they suffer great distress if they perceive lack of care.

Dr Jonathan Punt

Wysall, Nottinghamshire

Money changers in the cathedral

While it is no doubt true, as the Bishop of London says, that the Church is "not a business", it can come perilously close to looking like one.

Some weeks ago my wife and I, together with two friends, were in central London for the day and decided to visit St Paul's. When we reached the cash desk we saw, for the first time, that the entrance fee was £14.50 each. We are all pensioners, in our eighties, so I asked if there was a concessionary price. There was not.

We thought a bill for £58 for our two couples to enter a church was absurd, and left without doing so – unimproved by any experiences we might have had inside, and disenchanted by those we had outside.

John Phillips

London SW14

The Bishop of London said that he "shared demonstrators' concerns about corporate greed". I do not remember him voicing his "concerns" following your headline of 28 October: "Business as usual: top directors get 49 per cent pay rise". The Bishop says also he is against violence. Presumably, he would have advised Jesus not to overthrow the tables of the money changers in the Temple.

William Robert Haines


So Lord Carey thinks the St Paul's tent protest could damage the reputation of Christianity. Well that lets the blood libel, the crusades, the Spanish Inquisition and Catholic boys' homes off the hook then.

David Sutherland

Siddington, Gloucestershire

Forgotten lesson about the banks

Ed Balls writes that we should learn the lessons of history (Opinion, 27 October). He should have thought of that when he was in office.

The 1930s depression occurred when asset values exceeded earnings by an unsustainable amount. The errors of the 1920s were addressed by regulation of the banks. Because we had not had a depression since, the lessons were forgotten and bank regulations removed.

Balls was not just in office during the last 10 years of the asset bubble, his government borrowed on the strength of that bubble. Balls did not learn when in office.

Britain has been living beyond its means since (at least) the 1970s. No nation can grow its way out of recession and maintain its standard of living. We have to get poor, to make our products marketable. Borrowing to finance consumption is ... think of your own word. It might buy some votes, but there is no economic future in it. Regeneration requires a lot more thought and effort.

Martin London

Henllan, Denbighshire

Laws uphold gay human rights

The Prime Minister rightly points out that international human rights law safeguards identity, which means homosexuals are protected in law from having their sexual identity criminalised. ("Commonwealth nations to have aid cut for gay rights abuses," 31 October.) Individuals cannot be targeted because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

All the Commonwealth countries that continue to criminalise homosexuality have signed up to international human rights treaties, which are legally binding on them. Those countries are therefore violating their own international human rights law obligations and their own constitutions, all of which contain similar provisions to protect equality, dignity and privacy.

If governments do not decriminalise of their own volition, the obligation will fall to the courts to uphold the law, placing a huge burden on brave gay, lesbian and transgendered people to bring cases to ensure that their human rights are guaranteed.

Jonathan Cooper

Chief Executive, Human Dignity Trust, London N6

That was All Hallows Eve

Your feature "Have a haute Hallowe'en" (31 October) has its ecclesiastical party dress in a twist when it says: "All Souls' day might be about tricks ...".

The first day of November is All Saints' Day, aka the feast of All Hallows or Hallowmas, when the Church commemorates those martyrs who in Heaven enjoy the beatific vision of God – so 31 October is the eve of All Hallows Day. And 2 November is All Souls' Day when those who have died without enjoying the company of the blessed are remembered.

Both days are Holy Days in the church calendar, whereas the Hallowe'en shenanigans were an entirely secular and commercial import. But no one should need an excuse to party.

Anthony Bramley-Harker

Watford, Hertfordshire

No reason to read pseudo-words

I completely disagree with Nick Gibb's argument that a new form of reading test will be a "positive experience for children" (report, 28 October). There are already plenty of well-proven diagnostic tools available to test the reading ability of children and I am not convinced by the value of introducing one with "pseudo-words". The case for this is unproven, and it will end up confusing most children.

David Hanson

Chief Executive, Independent Association of Prep Schools, Leamington Spa, Warwickshire

For the phonics fanatics, reading is the decoding of symbols, nothing more. For others, reading is always associated with meaning, so it's no wonder bright children are confused by the presence of unreal "words" in the reading test. They have clearly been taught to read by pragmatists who know that there is no one-method-fits-all way of teaching reading, and that reading is concerned with meaning as much as with decoding symbols.

Rashid Karapiet


Birth and liberty

Most mothers have had qualms about childbirth, but when it came to it we coped ("Women to gain right to have planned Caesareans on NHS", 31 October). Those who would like a Caesarean section at taxpayers' expense for no medical reason are entirely at liberty to exercise the choice of not becoming pregnant in the first place.

Susan Alexander

Frampton Cotterell, Gloucestershire

Clearing out

What will be the purpose of UCAS if, as proposed, students are able to apply for admission to universities after they have their A-level results? The clearing operation is an integral part of their procedures. Wouldn't it be cheaper and cause less angst if students applied direct to institutions of their choice?

Richard Stanwell

St Albans, Hertfordshire

Pirate stunt

So David Cameron is going to allow British ships to carry armed guards against Somali pirates. Professionals in the maritime industry will point out that ships have always been allowed to arm themselves against pirates. This is just another publicity stunt. Let's get back to the underlying issue of the region's instability, poverty and despair.

Michael Bond

Stockport, Cheshire