In light of your criticisms of education, higher and lower, the question arises, why should Chronicles writer Jane Greer (February issue) and Joseph Sobran of the National Review be taken in by the anti-Shakespearean nonsense? Are they untaught? Badly taught? Or are their views a relatively harmless manifestation of the paranoia of the times?

Once someone allows the thought to take root that Shakespeare was someone else, he has stepped into an abyss of unreason, and there can be no argument because there is nothing to argue about. Shakespeare’s identity is axiomatic. To dispute it is as weird as to dispute the heliocentricity of the solar system after observation proved it in (I think) 1838. And that would be very weird. If one rules out the evidential equivalent of instrumentation—life-records, title-pages, contemporary references, and so on—then one is in no position to say anything about anyone at all, including the Earl of Oxford.

But we must never forget that we live in a country where the majority of people have no grasp of the maneuver called proof and believe all kinds of nonsense—which brings us back to the educational system.

Two observations. As far as I know, the combined Baconians, Oxfordians, Derbyites, &c. have not contributed anything to the corpus of Shakespearean scholarship except rubbish. What they have done is mislead uninstructed people who believe what they read in books. This puts them in quite a different category from the astrologers, alchemists, neo-Platonists, &c. whose work has fallen into disrepute but whose contribution to our ways of thinking and knowing is immense. The anti-Shakespeareans are merely destructive, and belong in the freak department of the library. Second, what is your magazine doing joining ranks with freaks? It’s no use advocating ancient tradition on one page and knocking it down on the next. Illdisposed as children are to read poetry these days, I do not suppose they will be much encouraged by the knowledge that the great Shakespeare himself was a fraud on both sides of the mask. As you say elsewhere in the magazine, children have good sense in matters like that. —F.W. Brownlow Mount Holyoke College

Ms. Greer Replies:

Mr. Brownlow is not looking for a response or dialogue; he is, in fact, doing what he can to discourage it. He obviously hasn’t read Charlton Ogburn’s book and doesn’t intend to, but even at such a remove from the really terrifying material therein, he is frightened enough to throw scholarship out the window and wage a purely ad hominem attack on those of us who are fascinated by the very large body of facts pointing to Edward de Vere as Shakespeare.

When a staunch Stratfordian takes it upon himself to refute Ogburn’s book point by point (and there are hundreds of points), I will be delighted and very much interested, and feel safe in saying that Charlton Ogburn will be, too. This is, after all, supposed to be fun, a quest of love; there is no “loser,” and every literature-lover will be a winner no matter what the truth is found to be.