Why Shakespeare’s

The Tempest is among best loved plays of Shakespeare.  And, for several years, it is a play in which I and my collaborator Lynne Kositsky have developed a special  interest.

In all, we have now published five articles on various aspects of Tempest sources, chronology, and literary themes, as follows:

O Brave New World: The Tempest and Peter Martyr’s De Orbe Novo.”  Critical Survey 21:2 (fall 2009), 7-42.

Pale as Death: The Fictionalizing Influence of Erasmus’ ‘Naufragium’ on the Renaissance Travel Narrative.” Festschrift in Honor of Isabel Holden,  fall 2008, Concordia University, 141-151.

The Spanish Maze and the Date of The Tempest.”  The Oxfordian, fall 2007, 1-11.

Shakespeare and the Voyagers Revisited.”  The Review of English Studies, September, 2007 (published online June, 2007), 447-472.

How Shakespeare Got His Tempest:  Another “Just So” Story,” Brief Chronicles I (2009), 205-266, print edition.

A Movable Feast: The Tempest as Shrovetide Revelry, The Shakespeare Yearbook (Volume XVII), 365404.

We have now compiled these  articles, which include a detailed reply to Professor Alden Vaughan, whose Fall 2008 Shakespeare Quarterly article responds (sort of) to our Fall 2007 Review of English Studies article, and some other materials,   into a book manuscript which is currently under review with a major academic publisher in the United States. On this  website, you can track the progress of this project. Once the book is published, this site will publish regular updates, including reviews and promotional literature. (more…)

Reference & Research Book News Reviews “On the Date….”

Since our last blog entry, four more 5-star reviews of On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest have appeared on Amazon, along with one lone one-star “review,” by the well-known (at least on Amazon!)  Oxford-basher BC Hackman, which follows his usual charming ethos by referring to the reviews of the 7 readers who have actually read the book as “crackpots.”

We are grateful for the new, thoughtful, and insightful reviews of Libby, Ricardo Mena Cuevas, the Bruce, and Frank David. (more…)

“Couldn’t Put it Down….”

On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest is now available via Amazon as well as Barnes and Noble.

Three five star reviews of the book have already been posted On Amazon.

The most recent reviewer, MacDuff, “couldn’t put it down.”  He reports that the book is “both a thrilling work of scholarly investigation and a parable about modern academic closed-mindedness, where a fixed idea has become so entrenched in universities that traditional scholars will not let go of it.”

In the words of Frank David, “the Stritmatter – Kositsky book has a unique quality of knowledge, thorough research and deep wisdom already from the very beginning.” (more…)

And on the 2921st Day the Index was Completed

Yes, it may be hard to believe. Stratfordians keep saying that we are wasting our lives in pursuit of a chimera, but at least the index to On the Date, Sources and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest  is finally done. Not to mention the proofreading.

The presses should be rolling soon.

We shall see what those same people say in a month when the reviews start appearing. The book is by necessity dense, but we believe it lives up to the promise of William Niederkorn’s preface:

Thanks to Stritmatter and Kositsky, [Edmond] Malone’s conjectures [that The Tempest is based on accounts of the 1609 wreck of the Sea Venture] are demolished impartially, systematically, and convincingly on the most considerate scholarly grounds. The reverberations should be seismic for Shakespeare scholars…..

Seismic. There’s an apt metaphor. On the heels of Shahan and Waugh’s Shakespeare in Doubt?: Exposing an Industry in Denial, a book which “impartially, systematically, and convincingly” shows that there is a serious problem with the orthodox narratives of the bard, the reverberations should indeed be significant.

It may now be pre-ordered via Amazon.  Please don’t hesitate to share your responses here.

-R. Stritmatter and L. Kositsky

McFarland Accepts A Movable Feast: The Ink is Dry

Signed, Sealed, and...almost....delivered.

Lynne and I are thrilled  to announce that our book, A Movable Feast: Sources, Chronology and Design of Shakespeare’s Tempest, has been accepted by McFarland publishers.

Although some of the book’s conclusions have previously appeared in our  peer-reviewed articles as reproduced on this site, the book also contains a wealth of new material supporting the theory of a play written at least by 1603 for Shrovetide performance.

Contrary to longstanding belief, the play’s New World imagery is derived not from William Strachey’s account of a 1609 shipwreck in Bermuda, but from Richard Eden’s 1555 Decades of the New World. The book will include detailed point-by-point rebuttals to two newly published critiques of our work: one by  Alden Vaughan (2008) in Shakespeare Quarterly and  another by Tom Reedy (2010) in Review of English Studies, showing how their misplaced confidence in traditional authority has led to misinterpretations of the evidence of the date and influence of Strachey’s manuscript.

While many  books have been published in recent months advocating the “Oxfordian” theory of Shakespearean authorship, ours  will be the first to directly challenge the longstanding orthodox belief that Oxford could not have been the author because he died in 1604, before  the Tempest and several other plays were written. At least in the case of the Tempest, that argument is no longer credible.


Journal of Drama Studies article Contests Strachey’s Influence


Looking for the New World sources of Shakespeare's Tempest? Try Eden first.

A July 2011 article by Barry R. Clarke, published in the Journal of Drama Studies, contests the idea that the Tempest author had access to Strachey’s “True Reportory” manuscript account of the Sea Venture wreck, but goes on to argue that the 1609 wreck “was [itself] a source event for the Tempest.”

Believing that “Vaughan and Reedy have organised substantial evidence” against the objection of our 2007 RES article that “TR” was not completed until 1612, Clarke develops another criticism of the theory of “TR”‘s influence — one that we also explore in our unpublished manuscript — that the canons of secrecy imposed by the Virginia company make it unlikely that documents such as Strachey’s manuscript would ever have made their way into the dramatist’s hands.

Most of Clarke’s article is devoted to a valuable exploration of why the theory, first proposed by Morton Luce and  Charles C. Gayley, of Shakespeare’s access to a secret Bermuda Company pamphlet, is improbable on its face, given the degree of secrecy imposed on information about Bermuda, which was considered a vital asset in England’s “cold war” against Spain for control of the new world.

Instead,  Clarke argues for a more diffuse and circumstantial  influence of the Bermuda literature and other Jacobean  gossip on Shakespeare’s play.  For example, he devotes a number of paragraphs to discussing the possibility that the names “Stephano” and “Trinculo” are derived from the name of the Prince of Moldavia, Stephano Janiculo, who visited the Jacobean court in 1607. He notes that Ben Jonson parodied Janiculo’s courtship of Lay Arabella Stuart in in Epiocene (produced 1609, published 1616), and that the same play mentions (in the same lines) “Nomentack,”described by Clarke as “an Indian chief from Virginia.” (more…)

Kositsky and Stritmatter to Receive Concordia University’s Vero Nihil Verius Award

Concordia University's new Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre (now completed) as originally envisaged by architects.


Concordia University’s Dr. Daniel Wright, Director of the University’s Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre, has announced that the 2012 annual Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Scholarship will be awarded “to the team of Prof Roger Stritmatter and Lynne Kositsky for the outstanding achievement, recognition, and prestigious juried publication of their research on the origins of Shakespeare’sTempest.”

The award will be conferred at Concordia’s Annual Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference, scheduled for April 12-15, 2012.

Others honored with the award for 2012 include  journalist and novelist, Al Austin, in particular appreciation for his work on the breakthrough PBS Frontline documentary, The Shakespeare Mystery, as well as for his forthcoming Oxfordian novel, The Cottage.

Katherine Chiljan, in special tribute to the scholarly achievement of her most recent book, Shakespeare Suppressed:  The Uncensored Truth About Shakespeare and His Works, will also be honored with the award in 2012.


Kositsky Awarded $25,000 Canada Council Grant


As reported on the Oberon blog, Shakespeare authorship researcher and novelist Lynne Kositsky, co-author with Roger Stritmatter of A Movable Feast,  has been honored by the Canada Council for the Arts with a $25,000 grant. The funds were awarded to help Kositsky finish her young-adult novel with the working title of A Scattering of Stars. Kositsky said:

Every year, in October, Canadian authors can write applications to the Canada Council for the Arts for grants to help them finish their new books. I entered last year, enclosing about 15 pages of my new young-adult novel — all I’d written of it at the time. I added some pages from one of my published novels, as allowed.

There are, obviously, a limited number of grants available, and fierce competition for them. Yesterday afternoon I received a letter from the Canada Council telling me that I’d been awarded a $25,000 grant — the maximum given — to help me finish my book. The grant covers living, research, and travel expenses. It’s very welcome and I’m totally thrilled.

Congrats, Lynne!


Kositsky Title Awarded one of the Best Young Adult Novels of 2010

Lynne Kositsky’s most recent published novel, Minerva’s Voyage, has been listed by Resource Links, a journal that publishes reviews,  as one of the best young adult novels of the year.

“The setting on both the ship and the tropical island are stunning,” wrote a Resource Link reviewer.

“Readers will gasp with horror at conditions on the ship, tremble at the storm scenes and thrill to the tension around the solving of the puzzle. The pace of the plot is relentless and this book is impossible to put down.”

Congrats, Lynne.


A-mazing Tempests


Maze engraving from Francis Quarles' Emblems, divine and moral, together with Hieroglyphicks of the life of man (1634). The image appears as an illustration in David Lindley's recent New Cambridge edition of The Tempest.

It has long been known by Shakespearean scholars that The Tempest has a special (but never fully articulated) connection to the idea of the labyrinth. In the middle ages and up through the age of Shakespeare labyrinths and mazes remained an influential technology and a set of social practices central to the ideals of (the predominantly) Christian culture of Europe. In an era when the idea of pilgrimage was still a living practice, the maze functioned as a microcosm of the pilgrim’s journey.

Visibly central to such holy landmarks as Chartres, as well as found in such nominally secular installations as English turf mazes or the 14th century garden maze or “Daedalus“of Charles the V of France, the labyrinth became an emblem for the twists and turns, the epistemic confusions and blind alleys of the self-reflective life.

As such, the maze is, just under the surface, the play’s central organizing motif, both in terms of dramatic action (plot) and geography (setting). As Vaughan and Vaughan recognize in their Arden Tempest of 1999, the play’s action largely consists of circumscribed

geographic movement writ small. The firsts four acts conclude with an invitation to move on: “Come, follow” (1.2.502); “Lead the way” (2.2.183); “follow, I pray you” (3.3.110); “follow me and do me service” (4.1.266)….The characters perambulate in small groups from one part of the island to another; only at Prospero’s final invitation, “Please you, draw near” (5.1.319), do they join in one place. Although their physical and psychological journeys through the island’s maze have ended, the play concludes with plans for a sea journey back to Milan…(17). (more…)