An Anatomy of the Marprelate Controversy 1588-1596 - Retracing Shakespeare’s Identity and that of Martin Marprelate

Author: Appleton, Elizabeth
This study provides a blueprint of the texts and intricacies of this battle of writings and of the protagonists involved. It recovers the poet and playwright Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (under pseudonyms) as the leader of the writers defending the Church and Crown and the liberty of the stage against the Puritans and Martinists. It provides overwhelming evidence given by two writers about Oxford (under pseudonyms) who reveal him as an attacked active poet and dramatist whole brilliant works were in ‘abeyance’ and whose identity must not be known. The manuscript also provides the evidence given by two associates of Oxford, the writers Lyly and Nashe, that the writer who, under the pseudonym of Martin Marprelate, attempted the overthrow of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican bishops and episcopacy in England was in fact the scholar Gabriel Harvey, who was the major opponent of Edward de Vere throughout the battle of writings, and his blackmailer.


“…an amazing study by historian and biography Elizabeth Appleton of a famous controversy…deftly recounts events of history, their interrelation with the classic works of Shakespeare, and the indelible imprint they left upon political events for future generations….a very highly recommended, meticulously present, informed and informative scholarly analysis.” – The Midwest Book Review

“. . . a work of remarkable originality, the end-project of many years of research and revision. . . . it has chosen to investigate from contemporary printed sources the identity of two writers who have never so far been successfully identified from manuscript sources. Secondly the uncovering of these identities gives us names not previously advanced – certainly not with anything approaching certainty – whereby we can identify with more likelihood not only the true, or principal author of the Marprelate tracts, but also of the Shakespeare canon. . . . The book is well-written and clearly presented, and excellently provided with the ancillary material, including lives of the authors concerned, and their works, which make this a very complete handbook not only of the questions themselves but of the general historical context. . . . this is a contribution to the subject which cannot be passed over by anyone interested in the present or future.” – Francis Edwards

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Foreword; Preface
Part One: the Marprelate controversy revisited
1. Retracing the course of the action and the pseudonyms used in it
2. Three writers and their roles in the battle
3. Some characteristics of the controversy
Part Two: fitting the pieces of the puzzle together
4. Retracing the identity of Marforius
5. Retracing the identity of Martin Marprelate and Martin Junior
6. Retracing Edward de Vere’s identities
7. The question of Shakespeare’s identity
Appendices; Bibliography; Index