(via John Shahan, Chairman, SAC (DoubtAboutWill.org and Patricia N. Saffran.)


DEBBIE RADCLIFFE shows how the “Impossible Doublet” in the Droeshout engraving makes Shakspeare look ridiculous!


Watch the video!

Anyone who thinks the First Folio proves William of Stratford wrote the works of William Shakespeare should watch this video:(https://youtu.be/gCQt4pOMUqc). The video shows clearly that the man depicted in the Droeshout engraving of Shakespeare in the First Folio is wearing an impossible garment! Once analyzed, it is clear that the engraving shows him wearing a doublet in which the right front is actually the left back of the same doublet shown on his left front. As explained in the video, this is not something that could have happened by accident. For some reason, the engraving was designed as a ridiculous caricature. Watch the video and see for yourself, then please forward the link to others. Every Shakespeare scholar, actor, student and literary reporter should see this video. The professional production, narrated by actress Debbie Radcliffe, makes it very clear. Our literary “emperor” is wearing ridiculous clothes! Just look at him!

The Droeshout engraving

The best-known image of Shakespeare is the iconic “Droeshout engraving” on the title page of the First Folio collection of his plays, published in 1623. The First Folio was an expensive production and an unprecedented tribute, so it has always seemed odd that its publishers included such a strange engraving. It is flawed in several ways, as even orthodox scholars acknowledge. Most blame the engraver, Martin Droeshout, and attribute the oddities to amateurish incompetence; but the publishers did not have to accept it and could have found someone else for such a project. The fact that they did not implies they were satisfied.

Now we know that the oddities were deliberate and must have been required by the publishers to alert readers, right up front, not to trust what followed. In 1911, a tailor published an article pointing out that the right side of the front of the doublet in the engraving is obviously the left side of the back. He wrote that it was “not unnatural to assume it was intentional and done with express object and purpose.” Since what is obvious to a tailor is not obvious to others, Shakespeare scholars have ignored it; but now an analysis by Dr. John Rollett, a close-observing scientist, makes it a lot harder to ignore. Rollett’s analysis* makes it clear that the doublet consists of the left front and left back of the same garment – a sartorial absurdity. The engraving depicts the author with two left sides, front and back, and two left arms! Rather than amateurish, it turns out to be a skillfully-executed ridiculous caricature. The man depicted was apparently being mocked!

Per Rollett, the video concludes that “by clothing the figure in a ridiculous and nonsensical garment, the publishers were most likely indicating that the person ostensibly depicted, Shakspere of Stratford, was not the true author of the plays that followed.” Rather, the video asserts, the engraving “seems deliberately designed to alert observant readers, right on the title page, to be skeptical about taking everything in the Folio at face value and to keep an eye out for other anomalies.” If so, there are in fact several other anomalies in the First Folio that call the attribution of the plays to Shakspere of Stratford into question, as is well known. For example, on the page facing the engraving is a ten-line poem by Ben Jonson addressed "To the Reader.” It begins:

                This Figure, that thou here seest put/  It was for gentle Shakespeare cut

Rather than a picture of Shakespeare, we see a “Figure” that was cut “for” him. A frontispiece engraving of an author should be of him, not a figure made for him. The poem ends by saying “Reader looke/ Not on his picture, but his Book.” Rather than affirming the authenticity of the engraving (its ostensible purpose), it undercuts its own message, telling us that the engraving should be ignored in favor of the plays, where the real Shakespeare is to be found. Since we now know the engraving is in fact a ridiculous caricature, this interpretation is supported. Jonson evidently knew the engraving was bogus, so he said to ignore it.

Orthodox scholars say no one doubted Shakespeare’s identity until the mid-19th century (a claim that is totally false – several people hinted that they had doubts during Shakspere’s lifetime), but here we have Jonson and the publishers of the First Folio undermining the attribution to the Stratford man right up front in the First Folio, supposedly the strongest evidence in his favor. Nor is his coat of arms anywhere in the Folio – an egregious omission. That could have been an oversight, but the Impossible Doublet could only have been deliberate. If there is any other way to interpret the engraving, we would like to know what it is.

John Shahan, Chairman, SAC (DoubtAboutWill.org)

*Rollett's analysis first appeared here in 2010, then in Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?, and in William Stanley as Shakespeare.

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