Barbara Large opened the evening by welcoming special guest Dr Mick Jardine, Head of English, Creative Writing and American Studies at the University of Winchester, Dr Ros Barber our main speaker and Mark Rutter adjudicator for the November competition. She also introduced James Walpole, the new Social Media Secretary on the organising committee. James is in his final year studying English and Creative Writing but also is a contributing author to Cinema Chords.
|Dr Ros Barber and Dr Mark Rutter|
Mick described himself as the warm up for Ros Barber. He joined the University in 1978 and been a key player in the theory revolution team that has facilitated the original English Studies morphing into Cultural Studies. He himself has recently produced papers on celebrity culture, writing about David Beckham and Michael Owen rather than Hamlet as he did for his PhD dissertation. Now there are more students of Creative Writing than English Language students at the University.
David Eadsforth introduced Dr Ros Barber who as well as being a celebrated academic, has written three collections of poems, written for radio and TV, held various writing residences and written an award winning debut novel entirely in verse, The Marlowe Papers.
Ros was told that she was not allowed to research whether Shakespeare did write work attributed to him as part of a PhD project, unless it was with the intention of producing a novel. It seemed there was a fear of doubting caused by snobbery, ignorance, conspiracy theory and a belief that those interested to find out more must be Shakespeare haters.
Her investigations showed that there is hard evidence that Shakespeare was a business man and a broker involved in land, grain, tithes, shares, marriage dowry transactions and money lending. He was a shareholder in a number of theatrical organisations and had his name on thirteen plays. There were other plays and poems that had his name that he did not write. The repressed Elizabethan era was a difficult time to be a writer and often writers might use a front person to avoid torture or death. His signature that appears on various works seems to have been the work of up to four people and his hand writing is difficult to read unlike those of other playwrights of the day such as Marlowe and Bacon.
Ben Jonson, the satirist hinted that he doubted that Shakespeare wrote all he claimed to although he appeared to support him publicly. His authorship was also doubted by John Marston and Joseph Hall in 1598. Diana Price, in her book Shakespeare’s Unorthodox Biography, developed a Literary Paper Trail of ten indicators of an individual being a writer at this time:
- evidence of education
- literary letters
- evidence that they were paid to write
- direct relationship with a patron
- original manuscript
- hand-written literary notes
- commendation verses
- miscellaneous personal references
- books owned or borrowed
- notice at death as writer
Jonson had all ten indicators, Nashe nine, Marlowe as few as four or three and Shakespeare had none, though a lot of work attributed to him appeared to indicate a Cambridge University education he did not have.
We are led to believe he is the author of William Shakespeare’s Comedies, Histories and Tragedies, as it has his name on it. There is also a memorial to him in Stratford upon Avon referred to by Ben Jonson. The engraving on the monument uses rare Latin words for the day whose initials spell the word IMPOST - a tax on merchandise. The main script is ambiguous too.
All the real evidence as to who Shakespeare was, profiles a business man broker with supporting comments from his contemporaries that he may have been involved in buying and selling plays and poems. Ben Jonson, “Poet-Ape, who would be thought our chief” “from brokage” to “thief”; John Ward, Shakespeare “supplied the stage with two plays a year”; Michael Drayton, Shakespeare “trafficked with the stage”.
Ros ended her exciting and scientific appraisal by saying it does matter that Shakespeare’s authorship is doubted. An error needs to be corrected so that the right person gets the credit, we need to understand the genius that comes from groundwork, understand the sonnets better and stop barking up the wrong tree.
‘Write a Soliloquy for a Dramatic Character in Blank Verse – up to 20 lines’
We were pleased to welcome our adjudicator Dr Mark Rutter, a lecturer at the University of Winchester. Mark is no stranger to the HWS: founder members might remember him as one of the ‘Three Poets at Work’ at the December 2011 meeting. As well as being a poet he is active as a visual artist and fiction writer, and also a member of the British Haiku Society and the Haiku Society of America.
1st Prize: Celia Livesey (Pseudonym Joanne Ward) Soliloquy of One of the Trolls from The Hobbit
‘I enjoyed the use of an unconventional, “unpoetic” voice in this poem. A lively and original poem.’
2nd Prize: Robert Brydges Lines from 1594
‘I liked the way the poem managed to pack in a great deal of literary history and speculation about authorship without sounding like an essay. The rhythm never becomes bogged down and sounds convincingly like a voice.’
3rd Prize: Gwen Hobbis Dionysus Ponders the Cuts
‘This just struck me as an original take on the subject of the cuts, both amusing and to the point.’
Highly Commended: Sally Russell Tom’s Turmoil
Highly Commended: Sally Russell Demise of a Family Man
Prizes, Awards and Readings:
The prizes were signed copies by Ros Barber of The Marlowe Papers, and a Certificate of Adjudication signed by Mark Rutter.
1st Prize: Soliloquy of One of the Trolls from The Hobbit – Copyright © Celia Livesey, 2013
I could’ve been anyfink – yes I could,
There’s loads of jobs an’ fings at wot I’m good.
I could’ve been a chef; it’s not my fault
They don’t like stew with slugs and lots of salt.
I could’ve been Pri-minister, but then
I’d ’ave to learn to write and spell – an’ it’s
All very well, but with snot on my chin
My image was wrong – I’m not even thin!
It’s tasty though, snot is, so I don’t care,
But I’ve got a feelin’ that life ain’t fair.
I tried to be an astro-nut, they sent
Me into space, but the helmet gave me
Allergies – an’ bumps all over me face.
I could make it big on telly, but I’ve
Always bin too smelly – but trolls can dream.
Now rooted to the spot, and turned to stone,
Far from the Misty Mountains, far from home,
I curse that Bilbo Baggins, he really
Is to blame, for since the sunshine hit me
I’ve never been the same. An’ that’s a fact!
2nd Prize: Lines from 1594 – Copyright © Robert Brydges, 2013
Lines from “1594” - a play in verse about the Shakespeare Authorship Controversy
Wm. Sh: Blank verse, you say? I’ve had a go. My lines
Plod carthorse-like uphill: ka-PLONK-ka-PLONK.
But Marlowe’s soared! We heard his Tamburlaine,
In High Astounding Terms, defy the gods!
(He went to Cambridge, Kit did - not like me).
He’d had a string of hits, then - odd, this was -
He asked to ghost some Histories in my name.
Of course I see it now: he’d always planned
To ‘die’ and go abroad! Well, can’t complain;
I take the credit, so I keep the cash.
His Muse was killed in Deptford though, and now
He’s mostly doing chick-lit – that and farce.
He’s gone from writing Faustus and The Jew
To The Comedy of Errors and The Shrew!
Love’s Labours Lost! I ask you! Poppycock.
The brand of ‘Shakespeare’ needs another ghost?
Like Thomas Kyd? Or better still - George Peele!
A butcher’s feast of vengeance, rape and blood;
Say –Titus, for a title? That’ll do.
|Robert Brydges 2nd Prize Winner|
3rd Prize: Dionysus Ponders the Cuts – Copyright © Gwen Hobbis, 2013
I would never have believed it. The government’s last decree
on austerity. It applies to us deities too. Cuts all round.
I, Dionysus, God of wine, how can I make cuts? See,
junkets, festivals, civilization, happy eternal youth,
perpetual raving and more. It’s here in my job description.
I scarcely can make merry on vin ordinaire or breakfast tea.
And then there’s Zeus with his mighty thunderous boilings,
and Poseidon too. Must he also curb his awesome rages?
Are their displays to be confined to blustery showers
and volcanoes which erupt in well controlled displays?
Ares, God of manly courage, war and bloodlust,
Will his tumult shrink to mere argument and fracas?
As for Apollo, God of archery and music, I trust he won’t be asked
to cope with only peashooter and maracas.
Pluto, God of this world’s hidden wealth, he should be aware
the underworld of darkness is at risk.
And Hera, Queen of marriage, women, childbirth, must reject
pressure to downsize to hasty assignations or one night stands.
And so Zeus, King of Gods, I hope he’ll tell them ‘Nuts, it’s mere mortals,
the little folk, they are the ones who always get the cuts.’
Our thanks to Mark for his adjudication – very much appreciated by the winners, and to all our contestants, 19 competition entries received in all – a tremendous response.
The Competition for December:
Write a new beginning to Pride and Prejudice: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged…’ 200 words max.
Adjudicator Sandra Cain, Senior Lecturer, English, Southampton Solent University. .
Please email to the Competitions Secretary, Jim Livesey competitions.hwsAThotmail.com
by noon (BST)1st December. (please replace AT with @)
Please read HWS Competition rules