A Chronological Consensus

(work in progress)

Some of the terms in the debate are a real mouthful. It's hard to keep typing long words that are difficult to spell. If Donald Foster, a respected academic, is allowed to contract Shakespeare Lexicon of Rare Words to SHAXICON, then we can talk about the ChroniCon, even indulging ourselves in a bit of internal capitalisation, and put an end to mistyping 'The Chronology Consensus'. If you don't know what the Shaxicon is then don't go and look unless you want your Oxfordian faith subjected to one of its severest tests (aka 'completely disproved on the basis of chronology AGAIN').

Here, the general consensus is peacefully accepted. The idea that Shakespeare's plays sat around unperformed for years is daft enough in an industry where success was lucrative but rare, where winners were easily distinguished from losers and where sharp-toothed entrepreneurs like Burbage and Henslowe made tidy fortunes. When you add the fact that Oxford didn't write the last 10 plays because he was dead, in our view you have an ex-candidate, a candidate that has ceased to be, gorn orf and joined the choir invisible.

It will be easier, in our view, to resurrect him than prove that the last 10 plays were written before 1604. There is no way you can move Macbeth back before the Gunpowder Plot, Coriolanus before the food shortages of 1607/1608 or place the writing of The Tempest more than a few months before its first performance.

The best proof is the text of the plays themselves. Which is why we're providing the complete texts instead of the usual mass of links to argument. To prove this to yourself, take a random chunk of 24 lines out of any play at the beginning of the Chronicon, pre-1594, then one from the middle and one from near the end and see if you can put them in order by just looking at the text. Since you're reading this, you will definitely succeed but that's not the proof. Now give the three excerpts to someone who isn't an arts graduate and see if they can get them in chronological order They almost certainly will succeed as well.

Give the same three pieces to an Oxfordian and you are guaranteed failure.

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