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Fitting up

A key part of the Oxfordians theory is that the work which we know was circulated and published in his name, and is therefore indisputably his own, is compatible with the work of Shakespeare. It is essential to maintain this strand of argument as the two bodies of work have to somehow be made to fit the same man.

 It is impossible, however, to argue that Oxford’s poetry was written by the mature artist we know as Shakespeare, so there are two arguments which attempt to cover the gap in quality.

The first is the claim that the work we know as Oxford’s is just his juvenilia. They will often claim that it can be seen ‘anticipating’ the later, mature genius. This is a tough call which has to explain how someone can be still producing juvenilia at the age of 27, or even 38 as Oxford’s work can be tied to real events to which real dates can be attached.

Since no poet really wants juvenilia in the public domain, Oxford would also be unique as the poet who published only juvenilia.

The second argument is that Oxford published his best work under the auspices of a front man, ‘William Shakespeare’. This would be an odd way to earn respect and an even odder way to earn money. Some Oxfordians argue that he continued to publish bad work under the Earl’s name to prevent his identity becoming associated with the much better work published under Shakespeare’s name.

There are many more such arguments aimed a clouding the issue of why, in a debate which began with supposed stylistic similarities, there is such a gulf in quality between the work of Oxford and Shakespeare. Some these arguments will feature later, but none will explain why Oxford, a poor writer and Shakespeare, with a fighting claim to be the best writer ever, could possibly have been the same man. 

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