This year, a new book ‘Shakespeare or Marlowe?’ by Vyacheslav Katamidze will appear on the shelves of Russian bookstores
Interview conducted by writer Marina Bragina
Vyacheslav Katamidze, writer and a regular contributor of our magazine,
has devoted decades to the research to reveal the secret that has interested humanity for over 400 years: was Shakespeare the author of the works attributed to him, and if not, then who could have been the creator of the plays and sonnets published under the name of Shakespeare? The author shares his thoughts on creating his unique book with Russian Mind.
First of all, let me congratulate you on the completion of this monumental work. How many years did it take you to do this?
I started to work on this topic 26 years ago. True, I did research related to this topic intermittently; at times I had to stop working on this book as it became necessary to get acquainted with new publications and archival materials, to visit different cities and villages in England, and during such periods I was busy working on other books or articles. But I invariably returned to research related to the biography of the bard, to the works attributed to Shakespeare, and studied the books and articles by other authors related to this topic. There were more than a hundred books alone. The books and articles of Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, Charlie Chaplin had a huge influence on me: they all did not believe that Shakespeare was the author of the huge literary heritage that was attributed to him. Interesting books and articles denying his authorship appeared in England from the middle of the 19th century, and in total I read about three dozen such books and about a hundred articles. As a result, such intermediate works of mine as the book The Mystery of the Stratford Man and an article on Shakespeare in my book 30 Great Britons appeared. I note that all the materials in which the authorship of Shakespeare was denied were extremely interesting to read, because they were very diverse, even to a certain extent unique, while books in which the authors firmly adhered to the official, standard point of view were of little interest, as if written under a carbon copy. These authors were simply retelling what had been written hundreds of times before them.
In your article in 30 Great Britons, you argue that Shakespeare received a very poor education, and this already makes it impossible for him to author an extensive literary heritage. Are there any facts that make this claim substantiated?
Undoubtedly. In my new book, I have devoted quite a lot of space to Shakespeare’s childhood and youth. If we proceed from the contrary, then we learn that Shakespeare spent at best three years at school. But this is the case if he went to school at all! More importantly, the future genius of mankind did not study at any university in England: this is absolutely certain because the lists of all students who studied at the higher educational institutions of the country were carefully scrutinized, moreover by Shakespeare scholars. They, doing this, were sure that they would find his name there…
As you know, in recent decades in the UK and the USA, there have been many publications in which the works attributed to Shakespeare were allegedly written by other people: the Earl of Oxford, Francis Bacon, the writer Mary Sidney, and other writers of Tudor England. The film ‘Anonymous’ was even made, in which its creators put forward the hypothesis of the authorship of the Earl of Oxford. Do you consider hypotheses of this kind in your book?
Yes, sure. But for a variety of reasons, I cannot accept any such hypothesis. And I give arguments in the book that seem to me very weighty. At the same time, for more than two decades I have been adhering to the so-called Marlovian Theory, that is, the one according to which the true author of most, if not all of Shakespeare’s works, was Christopher Marlowe, the literary genius of that era, the creator of such tragedies as Timburlane and Doctor Faust.
As far as I know, Christopher Marlowe was killed in a drunken fight in a tavern when he was only 29 years old. How can he be the author of so many plays and sonnets that were published at later times?
This is the detective element in my historical investigation. Based on indisputable historical facts, I prove in my book that Marlo was not killed; he was rescued, taken abroad, and for many years continued to write plays and sonnets which were published under the name of Shakespeare. That is, all these years Shakespeare was only a forefront and received a significant part of the royalties for this. I believe the story associated with the faked death of Christopher Marlowe is worthy of staging a feature film with a detective outline. And in my opinion, it would be much more interesting than the film Anonymous – just because this story is not fictional but confirmed by historical documents.
Writer Marina Nikolaeva, Ph.D. in Economics and an expert in English history and literature, asks a question that, in our opinion, deserves a lengthy answer. If there is a growing understanding among British historians and writers of the fact that Shakespeare could not have been the author of 39 plays, some poems and one and a half hundred sonnets, then why are fundamental studies not being conducted that would once and for all put an end to speculations and prove that Shakespeare was only a forefront?
Research of this kind, although not “fundamental”, has been carried out since the 19th century. I know more than a dozen writers and journalists, and about the same number of literary historians, who carefully, meticulously studied the work of many writers of the Tudor era in order to solve this authorship problem.
But we must not forget that there exists a so-called “cultural establishment” that influences both the scientific community and the media. This establishment, for example, in every possible way encourages the promotion of modern art like sawn cows on display or those rubbish heaps in museums that pass off as high art. This establishment regulates both mass culture and scientific activity in relation to history, architecture, and literature. If, for some reason, it is not interested in revealing the truth, it is able to block any creative and scientific research, defame them, publicly call them falsification or low-grade adventure. Meanwhile, there is the Marlowe Society, a group of Oxfordians whose members are convinced that “Shakespeare was written by the Earl of Oxford”, and more than two thousand cultural figures, journalists, writers and historians are among the people who do not accept the official theory that speaks in favor of Shakespeare’s authorship. However. they are opposed by the force that they are not yet able to confront.
But positive changes, as we know, are inevitable in any area. Here is the first breakthrough! Not so long ago it was reported that a group of 23 research scientists who studied Shakespeare’s plays Henry VI, Part One, Henry VI, Part Two and Henry VI, Part Three, concluded that Christopher Marlowe’s participation was so serious in writing them that he deserves public recognition. This means that now, when these plays are published, Marlowe’s name will appear next to Shakespeare’s on the title page, Marlowe’s name coming first. As they say, it’s a great start. I am confident that the process of recognizing Marlowe as the true author of “Shakespearean” can no longer be stopped, and I hope that my book will become a contribution to this just cause.