The Marlowe Studies Entry: May 28, 2011


When it comes to the Stratford Shakespeare academics must assume information because there is no evidence he was a learned man. On page 97 of Stephen Greenblatt's Will In The World, we find an example of the ifs, must haves, and would haves that are strung throughout all the Stratford Shakespeare's biographies, this one attempting to fill in the lack of evidence that he had an education: (italics in bold ours)

"Thomas Jenkins taught in Stratford for four years, from 1575 to 1579, and hence must have been, together with Simon Junt, a significant schoolteacher in Will's life. Then, at about the time Will would have left the King's New School, Jenkins resigned his post and was succeeded by another Oxford graduate, John Cottam. Like Simon Hunt a native of Lancashire, Cottam, who presumably taught Shakespeare's younger brother and whom Will certainly came to know, had strong Catholic connections..."

Possible Evidence of the Stratford Shakespeare's Relationship to Marlowe

Another fact compatible with Shakespeare as a pseudonym is that neither Ben Jonson nor any other man in England wrote the usual elegies to the Stratford man after he died in 1616. Yet a full seven years later, Ben Jonson praised Shakespeare in the Preface of the 1623 First Folio as “the soul of the age”. For those who believe Marlowe was using the name William Shakespeare as a pseudonym in exile, Jonson’s role in the First Folio was merely part of the cover up.

Daryl Pinksen’s Marlowe’s Ghost: The Blacklisting Of The Man Who Was Shakespeare contains a chapter, “Jonson, Shakespeare, and Marlowe” that explores Jonson's Every Man out of His Humour and Shakespeare's As You Like It, finding contradictions to the sentiments Jonson expressed in the First Folio (if aimed at the Stratford Shakespeare) and allusions that point to Marlowe as the true author of the works. It should be stated at the start that most Shakespearean scholars agree that the character of Sogliardo in Jonson's play most likely does represent the Stratford Shakespeare.



Daryl Pinksen with Mike Rubbo


Pinksen says that in 1596 the Stratford Shakespeare purchased a coat of arms which would give him the title Gentleman. The motto he had inscribed on this coat of arms was “Non Sanz Droict”, which means “Not Without Right”. The following year he bought the second largest home in Stratford. As Pinksen points out, although we have no evidence of a literary life for this Shakespeare in the form of literary friendships, letters, and recorded interest in his own work, we have a great deal of evidence he was an astute businessman. Sixteenth century documents attest to his land ownership, profiting off grain tithes paid him by the men who farmed his land, profiting off money lending and quickly taking legal action over money matters. Pinksen says, “He avoids taxes and is accused of hoarding grain in order to drive up the price. These activities all speak of a man determined to get rich by whatever means necessary.”

Pinksen goes on to say that the character of Sogliardo in Jonson’s play, “begins to sound a lot like the Stratford man Shakespeare in his rise from countryman to gentleman.” He gives us Jonson’s description of Sogliardo found in the introduction to the play:

"An essential clown, brother to Sordido, yet so enamoured of the name of a gentleman, that he will have it, though he buys it. He comes up every term to learn to take tobacco, and see new motions. He is in his kingdom when in company where he may be well laughed at."

Pinksen gives us the following lines that reveal Jonson’s attitude toward Sogliardo:

Carlo Buffone

But have you arms, have you arms?


I’faith, I thank them; I can write myself gentleman now; here’s my patent, it cost me thirty pound, by this breath.


A very fair coat, well charged, and full of armory.


Nay, it has as much variety of colours in it, as you have seen a coat have; how like you the crest, sir?


I understand it not well, what is’t?


Marry, sir, it is your boar without a head, rampant. A boar without a head, that’s very rare!

Carlo Buffone

Ay, and rampant too! Troth, I commend the herald’s wit, he has deciphered him well: a swine without a head, without brain, wit, anything indeed, ramping to gentility. You can blazon the rest, signior, can you not?


O, ay, I have it in writing here of purpose; it cost me two shilling the tricking.

Pinksen says, “Sogliardo’s motto appears to be a parody of the Shakespeare motto ‘Not Without Right.’ And Jonson’s description of Sogliardo as ‘a swine without a head, without brain, with, anything indeed, ramping toward gentility’ is clearly an insulting portrayal of a nouveau-riche businessman of low birth and education whose greatest natural gift is the drive to make money."

The general agreement  among Shakespeareans that Jonson was targeting the Stratford Shakespear, includes the opinion of Katherine Duncan-Jones who, in her Ungentle Shakespeare, says, “. . . the bright yellow colour of mustard surely alludes to the lavish gold/yellow of the Shakespeare coat.”(p. 96)

In the book Shakespeare’s As You Like It, Maurice Hunt says, "The combination of the bright yellow coloring of Shakespeare’s coat of arms along with the similarity of the phrasing of its motto ‘Not Without Right’ increases the likelihood that Jonson in the motto 'Not without mustard’ is mocking his fellow dramatist’s coat of arms as well as his motives in spending money to acquire one.” Hunt goes on to say, “Ralph Brooke, York Herald from 1593, mentions Shakespeare’s name fourth in a list of twenty-three in his complaint that Sir William Dethick had abused his office as Garter King-of-Arms in improperly conferring armigerous status.”

In his Documentary Life Schoenbaum refers to this diminishment of coat of arms status through purchase power, when he says of the Stratford Shakespeare, "However much or little he may have acted, it is significant that he was known as a player, for example in the sneer by Ralph Brooke, the York herald, in 1602 at the grant of arms to 'Shakespear the Player’." (p.172)


One has to wonder, if the name Shakespeare were not a pseudonym, why would Brooke's reference to the Stratford man not say, “Shakespeare the Dramatist” instead of "Shakespear the Player"? It is of note that we find a description of similar kind in the register at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford. In the documentary film Much Ado About Something Mike Rubbo interviewed Frieda Barker who grew up in Stratford and often walked to the church where the Stratford Shakespeare is buried.

Frieda: As I was walking down to the church today - whenever I walk down that path - I always think of the very first time I went. I was a school girl of sixteen at the time and we looked at the register showing his birth and his death. I said to the girl I was with, “I wonder why it didn’t say ‘William Shakespeare Playwright’. It said ‘William Shakespeare Gent.’ That was my very first doubt."


We continue with Daryl Pinksen's analysis of Jonson's Every Man out of His Humour and its relationship to As You Like It. Pinksen says, "Every Man out of His Humour begins, and ends, with Jonson's disgraced scholar Macilente . . . Macilente is an embodiment of persecuted poets, just as Sogliardo is an embodiment of pretentious businessmen. But Jonson seems to have gone further than this. He used Sogliardo to allude directly to Shakespeare and, I believe, he used Macilente to allude directly to Christopher Marlowe. It was 1599, and Jonson was portraying a Marlowe now at the mercy of the man whose name was on his work, William Shakespeare."

Macilente is walking in the countryside, reading a book. He happens to be in a field owned by Sogliardo. When he sees Sogliardo and his friend Carlo Buffone coming toward him, he lies down to conceal himself. While Macilente listens to Sogliardo brag to Carlo Buffone about his quantity of land and money, Macilente, "becomes increasingly bitter over the fact that while he hides in disgrace, Sogliardo is blessed with good fortune."


S'blood, why should such a prick-ear's hind as this
Be rich, ha? a fool! such a transparent full
That may be seen through! wherefore should he have land,
Houses, and lordships? O, I could eat my entrails,
And sink my soul into the earth with sorrow!

and later,

. .. Who can endure to see blind Fortune dote thus?

When Sogliardo suddenly discovers Macilente hiding in his field, he questions the poet-scholar:


Sirrah, who gave you a commission to lie in my lordship?


Your lordship!

Pinksen says, "'Your Lordship!' is more of a challenge of Sogliardo's possession than a confirmation, but Sogliardo cannot see this. He think Macilente is acknowledging his ownership."


How! my lordship? do you know me, sir?


I do know you, sir.

Carlo Buffone

[Aside] He answers him like an echo.

In Greek Mythology Echo was a nymph who pined away until nothing but her voice remained. The Marlowe Studies suggests that when Carlo Buffone says Macilente the disgraced scholar answers Sogliardo "like an echo" Jonson is telling us that the Stratford Shakespeare and Marlowe's voices are one. The line would seem to have no other purpose in the context it has been placed. As for Macilente's challenge to Sogliardo's possession of the field he is caught hiding in, this also seems to be a line unnecessary to the flow of dialogue. When taken as an allegory for Marlowe's relationship to the man whose name was on his plays, the challenge is aimed at who has true possession of the Shakespeare Works. The challenge itself is what leads Carlo Buffone to announce that Macilente answers Sogliardo "like an echo", which we can rephrase as

The Stratford Shakespeare
Do you know who I am?

I do know who you are.

Carlo Buffone
Marlowe answers Shakespeare as if they are the same voice [like an echo].

Macilente [Marlowe] the poor poet helps the clownish Sogliardo [the Stratford Shakespeare] court a lady by showing him how to talk and act like a gentleman. But Sogliardo is incapable of even pretensions to gentility. So Macilente convinces the lady Saviolina that Sogliardo is such a fine actor he can pretend to be clownish so well that no one would know he is in reality a fine gentleman. During his attempt to sprinkle his uneducated language with those a gentleman might use, Sogliardo speaks some mangled French. Even so, the lady now thinks she hears, as Pinksen says, "a true facility with language beneath the clownish facade."

. . . why, if you had any true court-judgment in the carriage of his eye,
and that inward power that forms his countenance, you might perceive his
counterfeiting as clear as the noon-day;

Pinksen says, "No matter what he does, no matter how much his behavior denies this, she only sees what Macilente has told her about Sogliardo's fine qualities." He points out that it is the same with the Shakespeare authorship. No matter how much the evidence suggests the Stratford Shakespeare was an astute businessman and nothing more, the universities see only what they have been told by the First Folio, that the man from Stratford wrote the Shakespeare works.

Jonson's Play and As You Like It

Sogliardo has been exposed as a man who cannot act like an educated gentleman, even though he purchased the coat of arms that gave him the title. Pinksen says this scene is similar to the one in As You Like It where William (born in the Forest of Arden) is exposed as a clown to Audrey by Touchstone:

Pinksen says, "The identification of both William of Arden and Sogliardo with Shakespeare is widely accepted in scholarship. These references have been interpreted by scholars as an exchange between Jonson and Shakespeare as part of the 'Poets' War' . . . involving the two writers as adversaries." Academia has been content to go along with James Bednarz theory that, "the William/Touchstone sequence is a parody, mocking Jonson's jabs at Shakespeare in Every Man out of His Humour." Pinksen says that Bednarz does not have the option of taking Jonson's attack on the Stratford Shakespeare literally because this would give us authorial evidence that this Shakespeare was not an educated man capable of penning the Works. Pinksen says. "There was no 'Poets' War' between Jonson and the author of As You Like It. This is simply another fiction dreamed up by Shakespearean scholarship . . ."

Pinksen theorizes both Jonson and Marlowe were, "engaging in similar veiled attacks in print on the same person: William Shakespeare."

As You Like It was written shortly after Jonson's play. Those who believe Marlowe used William Shakespeare as a pseudonym find him directly telling us this truth in As You Like It. In this play Touchstone reveals the Stratford Shakespeare is a pretender, just as Macilente did in Every Man out of His Humour. A touchstone is a small tablet of dark stone such as fieldstone, slate, or lydite, used to test the truth of metals. Soft metals such as gold will leave a visible trace. As a metaphor, a touchstone refers to any physical or intellectual measure by which the validity or merit of a concept can be tested. Hence, the appropriateness of the dramatist using the clown Touchstone to test William's metal.

It is Touchstone who represents Marlowe in this play. Like Marlowe, he finds himself exiled and disgraced. Where is he in his exile? In the Forest of Arden, the lordship of William, as Pinksen says, "another caricature of Shakespeare".

The part of Warwickshire North-West of the Avon was the old Forest of Arden. You can see by the map below that William Shakespeare's Stratford merges with Arden.



Elizabethan writers often gave their characters a name symbolic of the traits or purpose they served in a play. Pinksen says that while Touchstone in As You Like It represents "truth teller", the name Sogliardo in Jonson's play is a variant of the Latin soliardo, meaning "parched soil". He says the character who represents Marlowe, Macilente, backs up Jonson's intention of this meaning for the clownish Stratford Shakespeare who hasn't got the juice to pen the plays attributed to him, when he curses Sogliardo:

Who can endure to see blind Fortune dote thus?
To be enamoured on this dusty turf? This clod . . .

Pinksen says the symbol of "parched soil" for the Stratford Shakespeare is taken a step further in As You Like It when Touchstone compares William to an empty glass, i.e. parched soil.

Give me your hand. Art thou learned?

No, sir.

Then learn this of me: to have, is to have; for it
is a figure in rhetoric that drink, being poured out
of a cup into a glass, by filling the one doth empty
the other; for all your writers do consent that ipse
is he: now, you are not ipse, for I am he.

For almost 400 years people have been watching this play without knowing the meaning of the Latin "ipse". Ipse means himself/herself/itself; the actual one. Touchstone (Marlowe) is telling William (the Stratford Shakespeare) that himself is the actual William Shakespeare who has written this play, "now, you are not ipse, for I am he."

Translating this in the Marlowe context, we get "all your writers agree that himself, William Shakespeare, is he. You are not himself, for I am he". Touchstone doesn't use the singular "your writer", meaning the man who penned the character William for the play, instead he uses the plural "all", which implies more than two writers. Keeping in context with Pinksen's analyses, we might speculate that William's writers are Jonson (who had just portrayed William in Every Man out of His Humour), Marlowe, who is writing this play, and himself, Touchstone. In Touchstone's first scene he announces he is representing the actual writer of As You Like It, when he says:

Come, shepherd, let us make an honourable retreat;
though not with bag and baggage, yet with scrip and scrippage.

Scrip = a piece of paper something is written upon, scrippage = the contents of the script, the dialogue. Touchstone is lifting the veil of character for this brief moment, telling us he needs no bags on this trip into exile because he is really the writer behind the scene, the one who puts the lines of dialogue onto the page. Metafiction is a type of postmodern fiction that self-consciously addresses the devices of fiction, exposing the fictional illusion. John Barth is a good example of this. As we can see, Touchstone predates postmodern metafiction by almost four hundred years.

Pinksen says, "Touchstone discredited William by exposing him as an unlearned fool and country rustic in front of Audrey, just as Macilente discredited Sogliardo as an unlearned country rustic in front of Saviolina. Both Audrey and Saviolina (each representing the audience) needed significant help in seeing through the deception."

. . . Audrey, there is a youth here in the
forest lays claim to you. [The Stratford William "lays claim" to the audience.]

Ay, I know who 'tis; he hath no interest in me in
the world: here comes the man you mean. [The Stratford William has no right to claim the play(s)]

It is meat and drink to me to see a clown: by my
troth, we that have good wits have much to answer
for; we shall be flouting; we cannot hold.


Now Touchstone will confirm for us that William's character represents the Stratford Shakespeare. Keep in mind that within the context there is no need for Touchstone to ask William if he was born in the Forest of Arden. Often we will find Marlowe's markers in dialogue that is unnecessary to the context.

. . . Is thy name William?

William, sir.

A fair name. Wast born i' the forest here?

Ay, sir, I thank God.

Pinksen goes on to say, "In Every Man out of His Humour, Saviolina could only see through Sogliardo's deception when she was shown his calloused hand. In As You Like It, Touchstone must take William's hand to reveal his true nature."

Setting his hand on the touchstone, we now discover the truth about the Stratford Shakespeare's relation to the Shakespeare works, and to the real author of these works.

Give me your hand. Art thou learned?

No, sir.

Then learn this of me: to have, is to have; for it
is a figure in rhetoric that drink, being poured out
of a cup into a glass, by filling the one doth empty
the other; for all your writers do consent that ipse
is he: now, you are not ipse, for I am he.

Which he, sir?

He, sir, that must marry this woman [the audience]. Therefore, you
clown, abandon,--which is in the vulgar leave,--the
society,--which in the boorish is company,--of this
female,--which in the common is woman; which
together is, abandon the society of this female, or,
clown, thou perishest; or, to thy better
understanding, diest; or, to wit I kill thee, make
thee away, translate thy life into death, thy
liberty into bondage: I will deal in poison with
thee, or in bastinado, or in steel; I will bandy
with thee in faction; I will o'errun thee with
policy; I will kill thee a hundred and fifty ways:
therefore tremble and depart.

Pinksen says, "The widespread perception that Shakespeare [from Stratford] was a playwright was a new phenomenon, precipitated by the 1598 printing of quartos with Shakespeare's name on the title page." Pinksen deduces that both Jonson and Marlowe were attempting to expose the deception in these plays.

The Marlowe Studies Entry: June 11, 2011


In Daryl Pinksen's Marlowe's Ghost we have been shown the analogies between Macilente hiding in Sogliardo's field and the exiled Touchstone hiding in the forest of Arden, "William's domain". A domain can be of terra firma such as a farmer's field, an electronic field such as a website, or a field of knowledge or activity -such as a play.

Ben Jonson wrote an epigram that seems to match Pinksen's findings in Every Man out of His Humour. In this epigram he refers to an actor who apes the poets, and identifies him as one who "would be thought our chief":

On Poet-Ape

Poor Poet Ape, that would be thought our chief,
Whose works are e’en the frippery of wit,
From Brokage is become so bold a thief
As we, the robbed, leave rage and pity it.
At first he made low shifts, would pick and glean,
Buy the reversion of old plays, now grown
To a little wealth, and credit on the scene,
He takes up all, makes each man’s wit his own,
And told of this, he slights it. Tut, such crimes
The sluggish, gaping auditor devours;
He marks not whose ‘twas first, and aftertimes
May judge it to be his, as well as ours.
Fool! as if half-eyes will not know a fleece
From locks of wool, or shreds from the whole piece.

Ben Jonson, On Poet-Ape, Epigrams (1616), No 56.

Pinksen is the first Renaissance scholar to notice the strong allusion to Marlowe's supposed death over the payment of a dinner bill (the reckoning) in a subplot near the end of Jonson's Every Man out of His Humour. He says, "There has been a disturbance at an inn. Someone needs to pay the outstanding bill. The men present conveniently find a pawn who will be responsible for the reckoning. That pawn is mistaken for Macilente." As we have already seen, Pinksen has theorized that Macilent represents Marlowe.

[Pointing to Fungoso] Sirrah, George, do you see that concelament there, that napkin under the table?

[Seeing Fungoso under the table] 'Ods so, signoir Fungoso!

He's good pawn for the reckoning; be sure you keep him here, and let him not go away till I come again, though he offer to discharge all. I'll return presently.

[To the other drawer] Sirrah, we have a pawn for the reckoning.

What? Of Macilente?

No. Look under the table.

The faking of Marlowe's death at Deptford would have likely required a pawn in the form of a dead body for the Coroner's Inquest, one that would be thought to be Marlowe's. Pinksen has observed that in this play the "pawn for the reckoning", "is first thought to be Macilente . . ."

We find no dramatic reason for the mistaken identity, but we do find a parallel in the Deptford faked death theory. The Deptford parallel is backed up by Macilente's explanation of the reason a pawn is needed for the reckoning. Pinksen says, "he tells the tale of a 'division' (an argument) amongst gallants at a tavern and someone being left as a 'pawn for the reckoning.' "

Faith, sir, 'tist hus. Your wife's brother, signior Fungoso, being at supper to-
night at a tavern, with a sort of gallants, there happened some division
amongst them, and he is left in pawn for the reckoning.

According to the Coroner's Report, it was an argument over "the reckoning" of the dinner bill that caused Marlowe's "death". Here is a bit of the Report, condensed:

after supper Ingram & Christopher Morley

uttered one to the other malicious words

they could not agree about the payment, that is, le recknynge,[the reckoning]

Christopher Morley maliciously

drew the dagger of Ingram at his back,

and with the same dagger Christopher Morley maliciously

gave Ingram two wounds on his head

Ingram, in fear of being slain,

then & there struggled with Christopher Morley

to get back from him his dagger

Ingram could not get away from Christopher Morley;

and so it befell in that affray

Ingram, in defence of his life,

with the dagger

gave Christopher a mortal wound over his right eye

Christopher Morley instantly died . . .


Rumors circulated Marlowe had died of the plague, that Ben Jonson had shot him, and that he died in an argument over a woman. Only those involved in the cover-up at Deptford or those closest to Marlowe would have known the argument was over the reckoning of the supper bill.

In As You Like It the allusion to "the reckoning" is sandwiched between Touchstone's statements that his life is a "spare life" lived in exile and his reiteration of the word "feign" ["to fake", as in faked death]. We live a spare life when our other life has ended, the way we put on a spare tire when the other tire has ended its life. It is the "looke you" set in parenthesis that tells us to look carefully at the meaning of "spare life", otherwise there is no reason for "looke you" to be there.

Corin [a shepherd]
And how like you this shepherds life Mr Touchstone?

in respect it is in the fields, it pleaseth mee well
. . . As it is a
life (looke you) it fits my humor well . . .

Notice that Touchstone's "spare life" is in "the fields", just as Macilente-Marlowe was in Sogliardo's field.

Following this, he tells Audrey he is in exile, just as Marlowe's favorite poet was in exile:

I am heere with thee, and thy Goats, as the most
capricious Poet honest Ouid was among the Gothes.

Just in case we do not get the hidden meaning, the author has the character Jaques not get the full meaning, and so he says:

O knowledge ill inhabited, worse then Ioue [Jove] in
a thatch'd house. [Knowledge put to such bad use is worse than a god cooped up in a hut.]

Jaques irrelevant statement allows Touchstone (the author) to point out that the true meaning of these lines is hidden in ambiguity, and this is where he unveils the true meaning:

When a mans verses cannot be vnderstood, nor
a mans good wit seconded with the forward childe, vn-derstanding:
it strikes a man more dead then a great rec-koning
in a little room.

And it was in a little room at Eleanor Bull's home that

after supper Ingram & Christopher Morley

uttered one to the other malicious words

they could not agree about the payment, that is, le recknynge[the reckoning] . . .


Pinksen concludes this chapter of Marlowe's Ghost saying that the many similarities between Every Man out of His Humour and As You Like It,

". . . indicates a close relationship between the plays and their respective authors. They suffered similar downfalls. They both lampooned William Shakespeare. They both use a female character to represent the audience in similar allegorical scenes. They both refer to the coroner's report of Marlowe's death . . . It seems a distinct possibility that the "Author" Ben Jonson loved "this side of idolatry" was not the man from Stratford, but the condemned, exiled, and disgraced Christopher Marlowe. Jonson's ambiguous testimony in the 1623 First Folio must be read in the context of the relationship between these two plays."

Marlowe's Ghost: The Blacklisting Of The Man Who Was Shakespeare


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