Hand of Damocles

In the face of such methodological shortcomings, conflicting opinions, and duelling analyses, what is one to think? An obvious explanation is that to- day’s orthodox scholars, including all the stylometricians here mentioned, are groping blindly in the wrong paradigm, and are handicapped by the confines of the conventional Shakespearean dating system. (Craig and Kinney are familiar with the Oxfordian argument, and mention it several times, once even citing an article in The Oxfordian.) In addition, very few scholars of any period have given any consideration to the idea of a substantial corpus of Shakespearean juvenilia. We can be sure that Shakespeare did not always write like Shakespeare.
Ramon Jiménez: Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter January 2011


Stylometry takes a step forward

In 2009, Hugh Craig and Arthur F Kinney published a book called Shakespeare, Computers and the Mystery of Authorship, revised in 2012, which has received surprisingly little attention in the SAQ debate, given its title. Craig is Professor of English at the University of Newcastle, Australia and a contributor to the Early Modern Literary Studies site and is the author of a very good study on Jonson which looks at the problems thrown up by lexical analysis of his work.

Arthur F Kinney is the Thomas W, Copeland Professor of Literary History at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. He is a founding editor of English Literary Renaissance and he has also written on SAQ-relevant issues in Shakespeare's Web (2004) and Shakespeare and Cognition (2006). This book drew in the work of two doctoral students at Amherst; Philip Palmer and Timothy Irish Watt.

All sorts of bells should be ringing by now. However, the only reviews I can find in the field comprise a solitary Amazon review and a very positive notice from Linda Theil. I doubt she read it or even looked inside. There is also a mystifying article on the book in the Shakespeare Oxford Newsletter in which Ramon Jiménez proves he has definitely read some of its contents but, concluding from the above conclusion, he has either understood nothing or is presenting his summary of an entirely different book.

Statosphere

Shakespeare Clinic

"Judging from their surviving writing, Shakespeare was not just 100 times better than Oxford, he was also 80 times more productive. Shakespeare wrote about 3,500 lines of verse a year for twenty years, most of them immortal; Oxford, in the Shahan-Whalen scenario, wrote about 40 lines of woebegone juvenilia a year for ten years, then, for fifteen years, wrote nothing at all that he or anyone else could be bothered to save––but then, at forty-three, supposedly burst from his cocoon to become a literary supernova overnight. "

Eliott and Valenza

Play the dating game yourself.

Elliott and Valenza's data isn't the only game in town but their work is the most extensive and those who have followed their lead have come to identical conclusions. The Shakespeare Clinic they operated through the late 1980's and 1990's departed on an Oxfordian trajectory and the early results did lean towards plausible cases for the three front runners, Marlowe, Bacon and de Vere. They were joyously embraced by the alternative cadre. Horribile dictu; pencils got sharper, computers got faster, the battery of tests extended, differentiation improved, sophistication and accuracy went up through the roof, and disaster struck.  They went from hero to zero with Oxfordians almost overnight.

Their tests, they concluded, 'eliminated The Earl' as a candidate. Eliminated. They eliminated another 56 candidates too, including all the favourites.