Shakespeare--Who Was He? The Oxford Challenge to the Bard of Avon

By Richard F. Whalen | Go to book overview
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Appendix B
"Shake-scene," Groatsworth, and
Chettle
Greenes Groatsworth of Wit Bought With a Million of Repentence was published in 1592 as the deathbed writing of Robert Greene, poet, playwright, and pamphleteer. Some scholars find evidence that it was written by its publisher, Henry Chettle, who then wrote an apology to those, unnamed, who were offended by it. In his apology Chettle even acknowledged that some thought he, not Greene, had written it. Stratfordian scholars say that Groatsworth contains the first allusion to Shakespeare both as an actor and, significantly, as a playwright, although he is not named.The challenge for the reader is to determine whether the passage in Groatsworth about the "upstart crow" who fancies himself a "Shake-scene" and Chettle's apology do indeed provide evidence ("clear" evidence according to most Stratfordian scholars) that Will Shakspere of Stratford-on-Avon was Shakespeare the playwright. If so, it would be the only such reference during his lifetime. Significant background facts:
1. The three unamed playwrights addressed in Groatsworth are Marlowe, Nashe, and Peele, according to Stratfordians.
2. The "tiger's heart" line is a parody of a line in Henry VI Part 3 (1.4.137): "O tiger's heart wrapped in a woman's hide."

-137-

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