British Renaissance Re-Attribution and Modernization Series

Anna Faktorovich, PhD: Editor, Translator, Introducer, Linguist

This series solves most of the previously critically discussed mysteries concerning the authorship of British Renaissance texts (including the “William Shakespeare” and 122 other bylines) by applying to 303 texts a newly invented for this study computational-linguistics method that uses a combination of 27 different tests. This testing derived that six ghostwriters wrote all of these works: Richard Verstegan, Josuah Sylvester, Gabriel Harvey, Benjamin Jonson, William Byrd and William Percy. This computational method, together with structural, biographical and various other attribution approaches that led to the attribution conclusions, are discussed in the Re-Attribution of the British Renaissance Corpus. A larger portion of this series are the volumes in the Modernization of the Inaccessible British Renaissance section, which test the quantitative attribution-conclusions by closely analyzing and explaining the contents of individual re-attributed texts. The modernized works are uniquely consequential in explaining the revised history of this period, and yet have never been translated into Modern English before. Some of these texts were initially anonymous, others were self-attributed by the ghostwriters, and yet others were credited in bylines to pseudonyms or ghostwriting-contractors. The annotations to each of their translations provide thousands of new confirming clues of shared authorship within a given authorial-signature. Even without this history-changing attribution evidence, these are neglected texts that are here edited for the first time to allow their beauty and intelligence to shine so that readers can see how they rival the standard “Shakespeare” canon. This series is cataloged in the World Shakespeare Bibliography and in the Play Index (EBSCO). A few pieces out of BRRAM have been published in scholarly journals. “Manipulation of Theatrical Audience-Size: Nonexistent Plays and Murderous Lenders” was published in Critical Survey, Issue 34.1, Spring 2022. “‘Michael Cavendish’s’ 14 Airs in Tablature to the Lute (1598)” was published in East-West Cultural Passage, Volume 22, Issue 2, December 2022. The Journal of Information Ethics published two articles on Faktorovich’s re-attribution method: “Publishers and Hack Writers: Signs of Collaborative Writing in the ‘Defoe’ Canon” (Fall 2020) and “Falsifications and Fabrications in the Standard Computational-Linguistics Authorial-Attribution Methods: A Comparison of the Methodology in ‘Unmasking’ with the 28-Tests” (Spring 2022). This Re-Attribution series’ claim that William Percy is the main tragedian behind the “Shakespeare” byline is cited on Wikipedia, as this is the first time he has been awarded this honor (together with Harvey, Byrd and Sylvester). And a detailed discussion, with 1,741 comments, about the intricacies of this computational-linguistic method and various findings took place on LibraryThing.

Experimental Data: Computational-Linguistics Authorial-Attribution Data and Visuals Available at this GitHub Link


Click on Links to Purchase on Amazon: Softcover: Volumes 1-2: 698pp, 7X10”: $40: 979-8-49958-765-2; Hardcover: Volume 1: $27: 979-8-49958-864-2; Hardcover: Volume 2: $27: 9798499590843; Kindle EBook: $9.99; Overdrive EBook: 978-1-68114-558-7; LCCN: 2021949415. Nonfiction—Computers—Mathematical & Statistical Software. Release: October 23, 2021.

The first accurate quantitative re-attribution of all central texts of the British Renaissance.

  • Describes and applies the first unbiased and accurate method of computational-linguistics authorial-attribution.
  • Covers 303 texts with 8,106,059 words, 123 authorial bylines, a range of genres, and a timespan between 1510 and 1662.
  • Includes helpful diagrams that visually show the quantitative-matches and the identical most-frequent phrases between the texts in each linguistic-signature-group.
  • Detailed chronologies for each of the six ghostwriters and the bylines they wrote under, including their dates of birth, death, publications, and other biographical markers that explain why each of them was the only logical attribution.
  • A full bibliography of the 303 tested texts.
  • All of the raw and processed data, not only in summary-tables inside of the book, but also in-full on a publicly-accessible website:
  • One table includes all of the data from the first-edition title-pages (byline, printer, bookseller, date, proverbs), and the first-performance (date, troupe).
  • A table on structural elements across all “Shakespeare”-bylined texts summarizes their plot-movements, character-types, settings, slang-usage, primary sources, and poetic design (percentage of rhyme and hendiadys).
  • To explain why these are the first truly accurate re-attributions, numerous reasons for discrediting previous attribution claims are provided throughout.

Re-Attribution of the British Renaissance Corpus describes a newly invented for this study computational-linguistics authorial-attribution method and applies it and several other approaches to the central texts of the British Renaissance. All of the attribution steps are described precisely to give readers replicable instructions on how they can apply them to any text from any period that they are interested in determining an attribution for. This method can be applied to solving criminal linguistic mysteries such as who wrote the Unabomber Manifesto, or theological mysteries such as if any of the Dead Sea Scrolls might have been forged by a modern author. This method is uniquely accurate because it uses 27 different quantitative tests that measure a text’s dimensions and its similarity or divergence to other texts automatically, without the statisticians being able to skew the outcome by altering the experiment’s analytical design. Re-Attribution guides researchers not only on how to perform the basic calculations, but also how to perform the biographical and documentary research to derive who among the potential bylines in a single signature-group is the ghostwriter, while the others are merely ghostwriter-contractors or pseudonyms. Reliable accuracy is achieved by also performing other types of attribution tests to check if these alternative approaches validate or contradict the 27-tests’ findings. Non-quantitative tests discussed include deciphering the hidden implications of contemporary pufferies, as well as comparing structural elements such as characters, plot, and element borrowings. Part II presents a revised version of the history of the birth of the theater in Britain by reviewing forensic accounting evidence in Philip Henslowe’s Diary, and the documented history of homicidal lending practices and government corruption connected with troupes and theaters. Parts III-VIII explain precisely how this series derived that the British Renaissance was ghostwritten by only six linguistic-signatures: Richard Verstegan, Josuah Sylvester, Gabriel Harvey, Benjamin Jonson, William Byrd and William Percy. The parts on each of these ghostwriters, not only explain how their biographies fit with the timelines of the texts being attributed to them, but also provide various types of evidence that explains their motives for ghostwriting. And Part IX returns for an intricate analysis of a few pseudonyms or ghostwriting-contractors who were uniquely difficult to exclude as potential ghostwriters; in parallel, these chapters question the reasons these individuals would have needed to purchase ghostwriting services.

“The complete series on British Renaissance Re-Attribution and Modernization by Anna Faktorovich is a remarkable accomplishment. Based on her own unbiased method of computational-linguistic authorial-attribution, she has critically examined an entire collection of texts, many previously inaccessible and untranslated to modern English. From a variety of distinct factors that have been ignored or unnoticed in the past, she identifies a group of ghost writers behind many miss-attributed Renaissance works. Of particular interest are works traditionally attributed to William Shakespeare. Dr. Faktorovich is a prolific writer, very well informed in English literature, philology, and literary criticism, and she is clearly thorough and detail-oriented. Her re-attribution and modernization series demonstrates solid scholarship, fresh perspective, and willingness to challenge conventional thought and methodology.” —Midwest Book Review, Lesly F. Massey (December 2021)

“I have long had an interest in linguistics and enjoy reading the frequent ‘Who really wrote Shakespeare’s works?’ Therefore, this book was extremely interesting to me… So, my recommendation is that if you have an interest in linguistics and scholarly research you will love this book… Very interesting and well laid out book. *****” —LibraryThing, Early Reviewers, February 2022

Anna Faktorovich, PhD, is an English professor who previously published Rebellion as Genre and Formulas of Popular Fiction. She is also the Director and Founder of Anaphora Literary Press.

List of Figures

Part I: Methodologies of Re-Attribution

Introduction: The Ghostwriting Workshop Behind the British Renaissance

A New Computational-Linguistics Authorial-Attribution Method Described and Applied to the British Renaissance

An Impressionist Overview of the British Renaissance Ghostwriting Workshop

Attribution Clues in Contemporary Allusions to “William Shakespeare”

The Patterns Distinguishing the Six Authorial-Signatures of the British Renaissance Ghostwriting Workshop: The Case Against “Shakespeare”

Structural Divergences Between the Established “William Shakespeare” Canon and the New Re-Attributions

Part II: The Birth of the British Theaters

“Philip Henslowe’s” Financial Schemes as a Theater Landlord

Manipulation of Theatrical Audience-Size: Nonexistent Plays and Murderous Lenders

Crime and Corruption Behind the Ghostwriting Workshop

Masters and Minstrels in the Renaissance Theater: Patronage for Propaganda

Part III: William Byrd

Rhythm, Music and Monopoly

Amidst William Byrd’s Fraudulent Pseudonyms and Piracy Litigations: “William Shakespeare”, “Thomas Morley”, and “Thomas Lodge”

Part IV: Richard Verstegan

The Secret-Secretary to Elizabeth I and James I

The Secret-Secretary to Aristocrats

Between the “Marprelate War” and the King James Bible

Part V: Gabriel Harvey

From Ghostwriting “Elizabeth I’s” Letters and “Spenser’s” Faery Queen to Debtor’s Prison

After Academia: “William Shakespeare”, “R.” and Other Bylines of Unlikely “Authors”

Part VI: Josuah Sylvester

The Case for Re-Attributions to a Court Poet 

Circuitous Evidence of Ghostwriting

Aristocratic and Royal Sponsors: “Robert” and “Mary Sidney” and “Henry Constable”

By Any Other Name: “William Shakespeare”, “George Peele” and “Joseph Hall”

The Ostracizing of the Jew in Renaissance England: The Disguise of the “Anonymous Writer”

Part VII: William Percy

The Tragedian “Shakespeare”

Plot Construction and Pericles, “Shakespeare’s” Strange Comedy

Attribution Case-Studies

“William Shakespeare” Apocrypha

Part VIII: Benjamin Jonson

The Comedian “Shakespeare”

Attributing Arden of Faversham

The Ghostwriting Workshop’s Subversive Autobiography: The Epigrams to “Fletcher-Beaumont’s” Comedies and Tragedies

Part IX: Studies in Exclusion of Potential Authorial Bylines

George Chapman: De-Attributing a Ghostwriter-Contracting Debtor

Nicholas Breton: Distinguishing Pseudonyms in Coded N. B. and B. N. Initials

Anthony Munday: Divergences Between the Thief and the Ghost Behind the “An. Mundy, Citizen and Draper of London” Byline

The Fletchers and the Beaumonts: Two Families of Ghostwriter-Contractors

Authorial-Group Chronologies

Bibliography: Texts Tested for Attribution



The first accessible translations of some of the best British Renaissance texts that have been tragically neglected.

Modernization of the Inaccessible British Renaissance opens texts to the public that have remained hidden in the archives because they have not been given the scholarly care lavished on the narrow standard canon of taught Authors. The absence of translations of these texts might have had a detrimental impact on world history because they explore the Islamic faith, homosexuality, promiscuity, and a myriad of other subjects with respectful warmth and acceptance that could have stopped wars of prejudice and unjust prosecutions across the past four centuries. These translations are executed with a unique method designed for this series that inserts a modern term into the body of the text to maximize reading-ease, and includes the original-spelling word or phrase, the source of the definition, and comments on alternative meanings in an annotation. Extensive annotations explain the meaning of proverbs, mythological and theological allusions, invented-words’ origins, and various other elements. As part of the British Renaissance Re-Attribution and Modernization Series, each text is accompanied with explanations regarding its computational-attribution and with additional evidence that strengthen these quantitative findings. One type of attributing evidence mentioned across the annotations is when borrowings of segments of text or plot and characters repeat across two or more texts in a single signature-group, such as those ghostwritten by William Percy. The translated texts are illustrated with enhanced versions of original artwork from their first editions. Most of these plays originally did not include Act or Scene divisions; these are added to orient readers in the text and to assist directors. A set of introductory elements that appeared in only some of these plays were added into all of them, including: “The Names of Persons” with character-summaries, “The Properties” that describe the set furnishings and design, and throughout the plays missing staging directions were added that help to clarify characters’ interactions. Primary source materials accompany texts where they are needed to explain the originating historical or fictional plotline or the pre-translation language they are imitating. The introductory sections present documentary evidence and biographical materials about the ghostwriters. Each text is introduced with a history of its previous publications and performances. An overview of textual, attribution or other types of scholarly research about each text helps to orient researchers who want to explore further. Extensive plot synopses are provided, with explanations of the themes, tropes, and other noteworthy patterns. And sections on staging propose potential approaches these plays can be practically staged by modern troupes or cinematically presented on film. Staging diagrams of the furnishings, props and architecture are designed for each play to help theater directors pick a play most suitable for the resources of their theatrical space. And to assist busy teachers and professors with enlivening and kickstarting a class, each text is accompanied with sections of key terms, references for further reading, questions for further discussion (themes, story structure, close reading), and creative and scholarly writing, and dramatic performance exercises.    

List of Illustrations

Prefacing Notes on Sources, Abbreviations and Translation Style


William Percy (1567?-1648) is the dominant tragedian behind the “William Shakespeare” pseudonym according to the computational-linguistic study in The Re-Attribution of the British Renaissance Corpus. Percy was a younger son of the assassinated 8th Earl of Northumberland and the brother of the imprisoned in the Tower 9th Earl.

Introduction to Part I

The Three Letters of William Percy

Sonnets to the Fairest Coelia (1594)

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The only actual collection of sonnets written by William Shakespeare Percy.

Discover a collection of extraordinary sonnets that have been nearly invisible to scholars and students alike because they were misunderstood or deliberately suppressed by censors of the canon. As the introduction explains, one of its only preceding reprints was an 1818 edition that was prefaced by its editor as a poetic failure that was a typical example of “the court style”. A close analysis of Coelia’s poetic structure and linguistics proves this collection to be one of the best examples of metered and rhymed verse from the Renaissance. The real reason for the cold critical reception that has ostracized Coelia becomes apparent in the synopsis of the content of the unified narrative these sonnets relate. Coelia is a plea addressed to Elizabeth I for ending the Buggery Act that sentenced homosexuals to death. Sonnet XI refers to a suicidal sacrifice, and Percy was indeed risking his life when he put his own name in the byline of this poetic appeal. Because he was writing under his own name, Percy subverts some of this homosexual subject-matter by instead referring to ugly or masculine features behind a feminine or cross-dressing mask in Sonnet XIII. Each sonnet explores a new philosophical dilemma, with beautiful descriptions, complex mythological allusions, and tragically romantic appeals for love and sympathy. Percy was the dominant ghostwriter of most of the “Shakespeare”-bylined tragedies, but he only wrote a few pieces out of the “Shakespeare”-bylined multi-ghostwriter collection called Sonnets (1609); thus, readers have not really read a full collection of sonnets by “Shakespeare” the Tragedian until they explore Coelia.

“Historians have long recognized that the revered Hippocratic Corpus is an accretion of the writings of many ghost writers and imitators.  The analysis of a similar process of accretion in the instance of the British Renaissance Corpus has brought to the fore contributors and ghostwriters here-to-fore largely unknown. Such is the case with William Percy, obscure poet of the 17th century./ At first glance, the notion that careful analysis of this phenomenon may be assisted by artificial intelligence seems contrary to humanistic literary values. But Anna Faktorovich has been a full and sensitive participant in the process and the result is not only her computational-linguistics re-attribution, but also a sensitive, accessible rendition of William Percy’s twenty Sonnets to Coelia./ The poems are contextualized by exordia from multiple historical authors and perspicaciously by Anna Faktorovich herself. Such contextual writings illuminate the central purpose of Percy’s poetizing; the Sonnets to Coelia are an apologia for alternative forms of human love, more specifically an apologia for homosexual love.  It is, therefore, of considerable modern interest as an important milestone (or millstone) in the historical record of laws governing human sexuality.  Sonnets to Coelia is a plea to Elizabeth I to reverse the ‘Buggery Act’ of 1533, which she instead reinstated./ The poems themselves exemplify the period.  They conform to the sonnet form with considerable consistency.  What makes them seem most archaic to the modern ear is their rhyme. Commitment to rhyme over-rides all other considerations: it over-rides rhythm, it over-rides accessibility and often renders locutions awkward.  Still a careful reading, aided by the abundance of footnotes, is rewarded by considerable amusement and insight./ Perhaps the greatest reward is received if the ‘beholder’s share’, that which the reader brings to the poem, is the presupposition that Coelia is a rubric signifying all the manifold and various forms of human love.  Consider for example Sonnet 16 where a grain of cruelty seems to be welcomed:/ ‘Then, if I swear thy love does make me languish;/ Thou turn away, and smile scornfully./ And if I weep; my tears thou despise.’/ In summary, William Percy’s Sonnets to Coelia are a fascinating read and receive my highest recommendation.” —Midwest Book Review, Lloyd Jacobs (December 2021)

“Dr. Anna Faktorovich’s writing is not only erudite but also beautiful and simple. Her persuasive and fascinating argument that William Percy was the main tragedian behind the ‘William Shakespeare’ pseudonym is most convincing in her work, Sonnets. She projects more credibility than any trial lawyer.” —LibraryThing, Valerie Ogden, past chairperson of the Mayor’s Animal Advisory Committee for the City of Philadelphia and president of the Board of Directors for the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals



Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Introduction to the 1824 Edition by Joseph Haslewood

Commentary on Haslewood’s Introduction

The Title Page of William Percy’s Transcripts

The Cuck-Queans’ and Cuckolds’ Errands (1601)

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An anti-warfare, anti-marriage, and pro-free-love closeted satire.

A single vengeful cuckold is tragic, whereas many cuck-queans and cuckolds running across England on their love-errands is satiric. The title of this play announces why it remained closeted across the Renaissance, as it trivializes adultery in a period that continued to see revenge-killings by cuckolds. The story opens with two aristocratic married couples swinging partners, as Doucebella cheats with Floradin, while Floradin’s wife, Aruania, cheats on him with Doucebella’s husband, Claribel. Tired of these complications, Floradin and Claribel become soldiers in the war against the approaching Spanish Armada. And Aruania and Doucebella unite in an apparent lesbian affair. The gentlemen then begin seducing a muscular forest-keeper, Olivel, while the ladies work on seducing her forester husband, Latro. Meanwhile, Nim and Shift, two thieves, attempt a range of frauds and tricks to steal a newly-made bowl from Pearle, Doctor of Civil Law. And Pigot, Master of the Tarlton Inn, has tricks and legal reprisals that he uses to force Nim and Shift to pay their growing bill. Under this satirical, absurd and comic surface full of misadventures, there are many exquisite poetic passages, such as the recounting by Captain Lacy of how the British troops fought against the Spanish Armada. There are fights, robberies, and a wealth of legal and historical insights heavily packed into every line of this drama.

“It is tempting to read Cuck-queans and Cuckolds Errands superficially, to enjoy its façade, which has been much enhanced by Faktorovich’s extensive and erudite introduction and footnotes./ Frankly, without those and without her careful modernization of language, the original work would be nearly unreadable.  At that superficial level, the reader finds much enjoyment in its satire and slightly puerile humor.  Human coitus, especially if illicit, is after all, the world’s most fascinating and enduring topic./ The cuckoo is a bird of European origin, about the size of a robin who displays the disconcerting habit of laying eggs in another bird’s nest. The derivatives ‘cuckold’ and ‘cuck-quean’ describe a usurper or supplanter, hence one who practices the pleasures of venery outside the boundaries of holy matrimony. And the drama Cuck-queans and Cuckolds Errands is about just that, obsessive and nearly random fornication./ But there is a deeper level to Cuckolds.  The reader wishing to access that level might do well to first read Jokes and their Relation to the Subconscious by Sigmund Freud.  All of human vulnerability and sexual peccadillos, deviant and sanctioned, are displayed in this writing, which was self-attributed in William Percy’s (obscure poet of the 17th century) closeted manuscripts. The reference to Freud above is intended to imply the ubiquity of this pattern of behavior and its persistence from age to age; humankind is steeped in concupiscence.  Percy’s drama is a paean to joy and jouissance, a celebration of what it is to be alive./ The drama itself tells of the peregrinations and loves and fates of a dozen players. Prominent among them are two spouse swapping couples: Doucebella and Claribel, and Aruania and Floridan who couple in various permutations, including a Lesbian encounter.  The drama is replete with absurd miscreants: thieves who steal from a doctor, a masculine but desirable gamekeeper and her husband, an innkeeper and two deadbeat customers.  The reader will enjoy many hours dis-entangling this menage./ In the language of Percy’s drama, the reader will hear tones and rhythms and phrases suggestive of Shakespeare—and no wonder: Faktorovich establishes Percy as a ghost writer for Shakespeare.  For example, a witch in Macbeth says, ‘By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.’/ And in Percy’s drama (p105), ‘Beset the pricking enclosure of my conscience…’ Cuckolds would be a great read if it were only for the fun of detecting such similarities.  I commend it to you.” —Midwest Book Review, Lloyd Jacobs (December 2021)

Plot and Staging


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

The Thirsty Arabia (1601)

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A closeted first attempt to present the complexities and elegance of the Islamic faith and the prophet Muhammad on the English stage.

Thirsty Arabia was written over a century before the first English translation of the Qur’an was published. Despite this shortfall in primary sources about Islam, this comedy incorporates with unbiased research a wealth of theological and cultural details. Information flowed into Britain from Muslim countries alongside general trade in goods after Pope Pius V excommunicated Elizabeth I in 1570, but trade was halted shortly after this play was written in 1603. The narrative is launched when Muhammad declares he will destroy all mortals in Arabia for their sins in forty days with a drought. Muhammad’s angelic council objects that there might be good people in the region worth saving, so Muhammad allows Harut and Marut to travel across Arabia disguised as humans to attempt to find any do-gooders to save Arabia. The main romantic entanglement across this plot is the unsuccessful courtship of Marquess of the Deserts Epimenides by most of the eligible bachelors, including two imams (Caleb and Tubal), the wealthy magician astrologer Geber, the two disguised angels (Harut and Marut) and Muhammad himself. While most of the characters are distracted with love, the Arabian people are dying of thirst, and fraudsters such as Çavuş work to capitalize on this desperation with tricks such as selling water-licenses. Spirits, magic, time travel and fortune telling are used to gain favor and preferment, while angels and good spirits punish evil-doers. The Aristotelian “Square of Opposition” in a logic game the angels play with Muhammad is only one of the many educational and entertaining devices. The poetic, wooing love songs, and witty refusals alone are sufficient for readers to explore the surprises along this narrative.

“An extraordinary, inherently fascinating and entertaining drama that is enhanced with expert notations and commentaries by the editor and translator Anna Faktorovich… A unique and recommended addition to community, college, and university library English Drama & Literature collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists.” —Midwest Book Review, Clint Travis (March 2021)

Plot and Staging


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

The Aphrodisia (1602)

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A rare marinal about disguised identities and loves among the Greco-Roman deities under the Mediterranean Sea.

Percy described Aphrodisia as an experiment in a new genre he was inventing, the marinal, designed to contrast the pastoral set on land in the countryside. Beyond this setting, this comedy focuses on taking to an extreme the popular European trope of disguises by having most of the main characters reveal themselves to have an identity other than the one they present themselves as. Arion relates a sad story that is an original translation of a segment out of Bartas’ Weeks about him being a poor singer who was captured by pirates, but in the conclusion, Arion reveals himself to actually be Jupiter, the King of the gods in Roman mythology. And Talus pretends to be an engineer and Vulcan’s (god of fire) son, when he is really Neptune (god of water). In standard published plots from the Renaissance, these revelations prove to have been necessary to further the goals of the characters, but in this censored story, the disguises cause lifetimes of misery and prevent all who are disguised from achieving their romantic and power goals. Percy has designed a plot that subversively shows how common pseudonyms and fraudulent identities are in British society, as it confesses the Workshop’s role in selling ghostwriting services. On the surface, the story is dense with innovative love entanglements, and the mythological misadventures of complex and stumbling characters. The preparations for Empress Cytherea’s arrival and the Aphrodisia feast in her honor also showcases realistic details about what a day might have been like when the aristocratic Percy family prepared for James I’s visit to their Sion House on June 8, 1603, just before James was crowned.

“Fascinating study of disguise, identity, self-fashioning, metamorphosis, and authorship. *****” —LibraryThing, Early Reviewers, Charles Alan Ralston

Plot and Staging


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

A Forest Tragedy in the Vacuum: Or, Cupid’s Sacrifice (1602)

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A farcical satire about the Laws of Tragedy and irrational morality that presents a Vacuum of death.

The Forest Tragedy is the only text that Percy labeled as a “tragedy”, but kept closeted in his family archives, without successfully selling it to a publisher. As the dominant tragedian under the “Shakespeare”-byline, Percy was the master of this genre. After decades of practicing perfecting strict obedience to the Laws of Tragedy, in this experiment, Percy rebels against them and satirizes the “imbecility” behind formulaic rules, and particularly in the types of rules that governs this “cruel” genre. The resulting farce especially satirizes Percy’s “Shakespeare”-bylined Romeo and Juliet (1597), as well as other murder-suicide dramas described in “William Painter’s” The Palace of Pleasure (1575). Translated segments from Palace about Rhomeo and Julietta are included to assist readers with finding echoes between these three texts. One blatant echo is the “…I die!” speeches uttered by Romeo and by Amadour in the Forest Tragedy. In the latter, events take place seemingly in the duchy of the Vacuum, or a void that brings together characters from ancient times together with historical and contemporary international European monarchs. In its conclusion, the Vacuum consumes all eight of the main characters, and leaves only dead bodies in its void. There is no clear main-character, so it might be Rhodaghond, the black-Egyptian slave-girl who ends up indirectly killing three of her masters because her mistress, Fulvia, shoves her once with her palm. Alternatively, it might be the Jewish boy-scholar and poison-brewer, Jeptes, who obliges his master by creating a poison that eventually kills four. The gore is brought to farcical lows, as three characters drink from a cup of wine with Lord Affranio’s heart and the poison in it. Numerous laws of propriety, morality and generic-integrity are not only shattered across this Plot, but these shatterings are also philosophically explained as deliberate decisions of a Poet intent on sacrificing this Plot to prove the absurdity of genre-adhering murder-suicides. There is infidelity, hints of homosexuality, court-intrigue, fraudulent schemes, and a myriad of other dramatic events. And below the surface of the farce, there are beautiful and enticing metered and rhymed poetic passages hitting the heart and soul, as the audience is asked to consider these from the perspective of the omnipotent Poet who has to condemn characters to tragic deaths across decades of a professional writing career.

“An iconoclastic but inherently fascinating literary study [that] will have a very special appeal to scholars and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the William Shakespeare – William Percy controversy regarding their contributions to Elizabethan literature and drama.” –Midwest Book Review, James Cox

Plot and Staging

Segments About Rhomeo and Julietta from “William Painter’s” The Palace of Pleasure


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

The Fairy Pastoral (1603)

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A pastoral satire about homicidal women- and men-haters being forced into marriage.

A standard “Shakespearean” comedy takes a group of youths who are attracted to those who are not interested in them, and regroups them by the conclusion into neat pairings of three or four marriages. In contrast, Fairy Pastoral appears to have been censored because the men in the pairings are wooing their intended partners from the beginning, while the women are homicidally opposed to marriage and prove to the men how much they hate them during the plot, only for them all to be forced into four marriages that all of them are miserable in by the resolution. The setting is the Forest of Elvida inhabited by a kingdom of fairies. Events open with a power-transfer from Princess Hypsiphyle to Prince Orion over accusations of mismanagement. Then, the Princess attempts to regain power across the competitive hunt the Court undertakes. Political and romantic tensions are repeatedly interrupted with slap-stick comedy of Schoolmaster Sir David trying to teach literature while his rear-end is showing, he is falling asleep, and in rare instances when he manages to relate a coherent lecture, the students fail to comprehend his meaning. This is a satire not only on the miseries that accompany forced-marriage, but also about the failures of pedagogic institutions, and irrational transfers of political power through subterfuge and sexism.

“Ably presented by Professor Anna Faktorovich, Fairy Pastoral… will have a very special appeal to students and academicians with an interest in Elizabethan era pastoral plays and satiric dramas… Highly recommended for academic library literary fiction and drama collections… [and] for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject”. —Midwest Book Review, James Cox, July 2022

The Fairy Pastoral and ‘Songs’ is an inherently fascinating study that will have special and particular appeal for readers with an interest in Shakespeare, Elizabethan Drama, and the Shakespeare/Percy controversy. Highly recommended for personal, professional, community, and academic library Literary Criticism collections.” —Midwest Book Review, Susan Bethany, August 2022

Plot and Staging


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

“Songs” from MS 509 (1636)


Introduction to Part II

William Percy

Fedele and Fortunio, the Two Italian Gentlemen (1585)

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An adaptation of an Italian anti-comedy into an English formulaic-comedy.

Fedele and Fortunio is an exercise in adapting Luigi Pasqualigo’s Italian Il Fedele: Comedia del Clarissimo (1576) into an idealized version of British cultural purity. Pasqualigo had rebelled against preceding tropes of Italian comedy by showcasing murderous and wildly promiscuous and unfaithful ladies and gentlemen, and rebellious servants. Perhaps because Percy was desperate in his youth to create extremely proper content that would lead to him being invited to officially write for court revels, Percy re-wrote Pasqualigo’s innovations back into what this comedic plot was initially designed to be. A couple of virginal gentlemen and a couple of virginal ladies exchange love-interests as they realize they cannot attain their initial desires. Their eventual marriages are attained with mischievous help from a pretense-captain Crack-Stone, a spying Pedant who fakes being in love to appear manly, and the scientific and psychologically-manipulating magic of enchantress Medusa. Percy avoided repeating these standard comedic tropes across the rest of his literary career, as he instead explored extremes of tragic infidelity in plays such as Hamlet, or extreme promiscuity in Cuck-Queans’; Fedele and Fortunio’s structural simplicity convinced Percy he had to constantly search for new formulas, vocabularies and foreign cultures to showcase. The introduction explains why the staging of this play is minimalistic to fit with the budgetary and spatial restraints of the accessible London stages. A precise explanation is offered of how scholars have come to the false conclusion that the “M. A.”/ “A. M.” initials indicate this play was written by “Anthony Monday”, and why the Percy attribution is accurate. To show the original divergences of Percy’s Fedele, original and translated excerpts are included from Pasqualigo’s Italian, France’s Latin, and Larivey’s French versions; the plots, characters and linguistics of these versions are compared and analyzed.

“A deftly presented, informative, and inherently interesting study, Fedele and Fortunio will prove to be a much appreciated and valued addition to college and university library English Drama and Literary Studies collections in general, and William Percy supplemental studies lists in particular.” —Midwest Book Review, James Cox, May 2022


Plot and Staging

J. Johnson’s Introductions (1909, 1933)

Luigi Pasqualigo’s Il Fedele: Comedia del Clarissimo (1576: Italian)

Abraham France’s Victoria (1588-92?: Latin: based on Dana Sutton’s Translation)

Pierre de Larivey’s Le Fidelle Comedie (1611: French)


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Three Lords and Three Ladies of London (1590)

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An allegorical morality comedy about criminality and the rivalries between London, Lincoln and Spain.

This play is an exercise by a young dramatist who is grappling with understanding philosophical and legal concepts by simplifying these into personifications. Three Lords of London (called Pleasure, Pomp and Policy) declare their superiority with puffing emblems and insist that they have an innate right to marry the three Ladies of London (Love, Lucre and Conscience). The Ladies have been imprisoned in the first part of this series (Three Ladies of London) for their sins, and Nemo has decided that he would only release them if precisely three suitors bid for all of their hands in marriage simultaneously. The Ladies are told to remain silent and to obey whoever is willing to marry them, or they would have to return to prison to be tortured by Sorrow. Thus, instead of the standard comedic objections from female characters to potential matches, the only obstacles to this pre-determined resolution are that the three Lords of Spain and the three Lords of Lincoln appear to also bid for the Ladies. The defeat of the Spaniards is presented in an exchange of insults about emblems and epithets during a meeting that alludes to the Spanish Armada attack. And the Lords of Lincoln are briskly defeated when they are told they merely deserve the symbolic stones the Ladies have been sitting on. The introductory remarks explain how Lords should be part of the main canon because it might be one of only three pre-“Shakespearean” British comedies. And a section presents an alternative explanation for the mystery of how the seven copies of Lords’ print-run ended up with strange combinations of varying typos. The annotations explain how the detail of Usury’s parents being Jewish has been misinterpreted by previous critics as anti-Semitic, when this passage actually summarizes the ethnic backgrounds of the actual members of the Ghostwriting Workshop, as the merchant-lender among them Sylvester was Jewish, and Percy was from a region near-Scotland and had been educated in France. And evidence is presented why the series that includes Lords and Ladies should be re-attributed away from “Robert Wilson” and to Percy.

“Enhanced for academia with the inclusion of a 6 page listing of Acronyms, a 1 page Summary, a 23 page Exordium, 21 pages of Plot and Staging, a 104 page Text, and and 5 pages of Terms, References, Questions, and Exercises, The Three Lords and Three Ladies of London is Volume 10 of that Anaphora Literary Press British Renaissance Re-Attribution and Modernization series. A unique and unreservedly recommended addition to community, college, and university library Shakespeare, British, and Irish drama collections”. —Midwest Book Review, James Cox, The Theatre/Cinema Shelf


Plot and Staging


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Look Around You (1600)

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The neglected actual first part of the Robin Hood series.

Both in terms of its plot and date of first-publication and performance, Look Around You is the first part of a trilogy that was followed by the two famous Robin Hood plays, Downfall of Robert and Death of Robert Earl of Huntington. The latter two are tragedies that have been previously falsely attributed to “Anthony Monday”, while Look is a comedy that has remained unattributed since its anonymous release. Censors might have neglected to connect Look to the others because in it, Robin Hood (Earl of Huntington) spends most of the play cross-dressing as Lady Faukenbridge, and being wooed on a balcony by Prince Richard. Meanwhile, Skink wears a myriad of disguises to escape Old King Henry’s wrath over the Queen hiring Skink to assassinate the King’s lover, Rosamund. And Young King Henry has been given the throne by his father, Old King, after several military battles between them. One of the main passions for Young King during his reign is his attempts to see the “fantastical” Earl of Gloucester executed for speaking too freely at Court. Lady Faukenbridge, Robin Hood and their supporters scheme to free Gloucester, and then to aid his life-on-the-run, while the other side schemes to re-capture and execute Gloucester. These schemes force several of the otherwise virtuous characters to take on fraudulent disguises and to succumb to highway robbery to support themselves while on the run from the law. The comedy is enhanced with the absurd constant running in the wrong directions by Redcap, whose ridiculous stuttering is imitated by other characters who take on his red cap as a disguise. This stuttering subversively restates that the attempts to execute Gloucester for speaking the truth are barbaric; hinting that such policies can cause all subjects of a kingdom to stutter instead of directly expressing their ideas. An excerpt from “Raphael Holinshed’s” Chronicles that covers the history of Henry II is included with an explanation of how it was adapted in Look.

“Editions of Look are rare and obscure — I’d never heard of the play until this volume came along. The text is… modernized, with… improved stage directions and prefixes, plus on-the-page glosses. And a section of Holinshed’s Chronicles that has… relevance… to this play.” —LibraryThing, Early Reviewers, Robert B. Waltz, Editor of Minnesota Heritage Songbook


Plot and Staging

Segments About Henry II from “Raphael Holinshed’s” The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Hamlet (First Quarto: 1603)

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The censored satirical or “bad” version of the “Shakespeare” classic that features a homosexual affair between Hamlet and Horatio, and Ofelia’s deflowering to feign heterosexual normalcy.

The standard summary of Hamlet describes it as a “tragedy” about a “mad” or “tormented” Prince of Denmark, who follows the solicitation of the Ghost of his assassinated father to revenge-murder his incestuous and homicidal uncle Claudius. The commentary that accompanies this never-before fully-modernized First Quarto of Hamlet explains how it was initially designed to be a satire that diverged from Saxo Grammaticus’ Danish History where Amleth pretends to be mad not only to execute revenge but also to successfully win the crown from his uncle. The First Quarto subtracts any desire for the crown from Hamlet, and instead subversively explains that Hamlet is motivated to feign madness and to deflower Ofelia to disguise his outlawed homosexual love for Horatio. Hamlet makes no direct expressions of attraction towards Ofelia’s beauty. And in the resolution, Horatio offers to poison himself to death when he learns Hamlet is dying. The satirical perspective of this history is especially apparent in the cemetery scene where the Clown 1 gravedigger sifts through a mass-grave to help Hamlet find a dried skull among those that are still decomposing. The heavy re-write between the 1603 and 1604 editions of Hamlet also help to show Percy’s re-writing habit that confirms the attribution to him of diverging versions of anonymous and then “Shakespeare”-bylined versions of Leir/ Lear, and Tragedy of/ Richard III.

Hamlet: The First Quarto is an iconoclastic, unique, informative, and inherently interesting study that is highly recommended for personal, professional, community, college, and university library Literary Studies collections in general, and supplemental curriculum Shakespearean Studies lists in particular. It is volume twelve of the simply outstanding British Renaissance Re-Attribution and Modernization Series from Anaphora Literary Press. Ably translated by academician Anna Faktorovich, Hamlet: The First Quarto will have a particular interest and value for Shakespearean scholars and students, as well as the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the subject.” —Midwest Book Review, James Cox, February 2022


Plot and Staging

Segments from “Book Three” and “Book Four” of Saxo Grammaticus’ The Danish History

Introduction to the 1825 Edition by William Nicol

Introduction to the 1860 Edition by Samuel Timmins


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Nobody and Somebody (1606)

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A comedy that juxtaposes fame with anonymity, and tyrannical abuse with fair governance.  

The rapid succession of monarchs across Nobody and Somebody satirizes the standard plots of “Shakespearean” histories that end with the overthrow or death of the preceding tyrannical monarch, and suggest hope that the next monarch will be better, before this hope is dispelled in the next tragic history, as is the case with the chronological series of Edward III, Richard II, and 1 Henry IV. Nobody is set in 85-60 BC, or just before the Roman invasion of the British Isles. The plot opens with two Court advisors, Cornwall and Marcian, scheming to overthrow their corrupt King Archigallo who unfairly confiscates land to grant it to Lord Sycophant and names a common Wench as his Queen. The coup d’état succeeds, and Elidure accepts the crown when the advisors explain he is the only rational choice. A while into his reign, Elidure finds Archigallo in exile in a forest, and insists that Archigallo retakes the throne from him. While Archigallo’s second term is less tyrannical it ends shortly thereafter due to his natural death, upon which the throne passes back to Elidure. Without a reprise in the events, Elidure’s two younger brothers then wage war against Elidure and overthrow him. And then these brothers cannot agree on who between them should have power over the other, and so they wage war against each other and both die, leaving Elidure to again reclaim the throne. The radical moral story against tyranny in this central plot is dampened by the constant interruptions of a rival plotline about Nobody and Somebody. Nobody is a fair, charitable and unassuming land owner, against whom the corrupt and fraudulent landowner called Somebody wages a slander-campaign. Every word in this play is dense not only with this extremely violent, sexually-charged and outrageous plotlines, but also with subtexts of implied meanings and historical backstory.


Plot and Staging

Primary Sources

“The Seventh Chapter” About Elidure from the “Raphael Holinshed”-bylined and Gabriel Harvey and Richard Verstegan-Ghostwritten The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland

“The Well-spoken Nobody”

Alexander Smith’s “Note” from the 1877 Old-Spelling Glasgow Edition


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Country Captain/ Captain Underwit (1649)

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A country comedy about the absurdly corrupt purchases of military titles.

Captain Underwit has succeeded in becoming a “paper” Captain by bribing the Lieutenant with favors and a below-value land-purchase. Underwit then sends his servant Thomas to purchase books to prepare him to actually carry out military duties, but Thomas instead purchases the “Shakespeare” Folio, and other impractical or irrelevant books in a manner that echoes Don Quixote’s belief he could imitate the actions of knights in romance novels. Meanwhile, Underwit withdraws from London into his father-in-law Sir Richard’s country estate. Underwit hires Captain Sackburie to build his military acumen, but Sackburie only has him perform a few military dances before they escape to drink at a tavern. The plot then digresses from these heavy subjects to romantic entanglements as Sir Richard’s wife (Lady) attempts to have an affair with Sir Francis, and Sister flirts with Mr. Courtwell, and Lady’s maid, Mistress Dorothy, devises a fraudulent scheme to make suitors falsely believe she comes from an aristocratic family to secure a husband. There are gems under this visage of simplicity, as Engine is attempting to bribe his way into a monopoly on periwigs, and Device the poet recites elegant songs to Sister that he is not sure if he has plagiarized. The introductory materials explain that the plagiarism of the “Catch” dice-game-song that repeats in the “James Shirley”-bylined Poems &c. (1646) re-affirms Percy’s ghostwriting of most “Shirley”-bylined plays as well as Captain, instead of proving “Shirley’s” authorship of this group of texts, as critics have previously claimed.

“A classic English country comedy from the British Renaissance era, and now ably translated by Anna Faktorovich into Modern English for an appreciative readership with an interest in the literature and stage dramas of the time. Captain Underwit is an eloquent, unique, and highly recommended contribution to academic library collections… It should be noted for the personal reading lists of students, academia, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the subject…” —Midwest Book Review, James Cox, The Literary Fiction Shelf


Plot and Staging

“Introduction to Captain Underwit” (1883) by A. H. Bullen


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Benjamin Jonson

The Variety (1649)

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A fragmentary comedy about the corruption of the judicial and monarchical systems in charge of granting aristocratic titles based on appearance instead of merit.

This comedy includes several devices that are uniquely typical of Jonson’s authorial style, including the extraordinary number of five marriages in the resolution, and the intricate descriptions of the significance of outward appearance (in dance, clothing, makeup and gossip) in distinguishing anybody in Britain as superior or inferior. At the onset of the plot, Sir William is hoping to marry the wealthy-widow, Lady Beaufield, to gain access to her fortune. In parallel, Simpleton’s wealthy-widow Mother is hoping to marry a knight so she can gain the aristocratic title of a Lady. Meanwhile, Simpleton is courting Beaufield’s daughter, Lucy, who clearly favors her other suitor, Newman. Simpleton devises several schemes to win an advantage by hiring jeerers to ridicule Newman, as well as hiring Voluble to give Newman a false prophecy to manipulate him toward whoring and drinking. By the end, Simpleton even attempts to kidnap Lucy to force her into marriage. In the background of these various courtships, the French dance teacher, Galliard, is tutoring his wealthy students in dance. And Voluble and Nice are teaching proper manners, dress and other outward signs of aristocratic breeding in their Female Academy. These seemingly silly and pretty tropes are clouding the fact that Galliard confesses he has escaped being executed for attempting to overthrow the French King in 1632, and Voluble is repeatedly accused of witchcraft. More importantly, the narrative explains the corrupt process that was involved in bribing judges and administrators into allowing a wealthy gentry landowner, like Mother, to purchase her way into the aristocracy through a vacant baronet title. Mother merely has to choose between going through the ladyfying schooling herself, or completely negating her burden by hiring an actress, such as Nice (the chambermaid), to pretend to be her in public appearances. The dialogue refers to several people who were granted aristocratic titles by this corrupt process, starting with the 1st Lord of Lorne of Scotland in 1439, and as late as the Duke of Buckingham in 1623. Many of the contextual references mention the Percys’ Northumberland estate’s Scottish neighbors, as well as other Percy-associated places and people in the Buckingham Palace and Newcastle; thus, this play is likely to have been closeted by Percy until after his death because Jonson was criticizing the Percys’ involvement in these title-purchasing schemes. Percy (as the primary ghostwriter) and Jonson (as the secondary) had written about knighthood-purchasing and James I’s trade in titles to his Scottish and Scottish-adjacent comrades in Eastward Ho! These frank confessions about corruption in the monarchy led to Jonson’s temporary imprisonment in 1605. This volume includes translations of all of Jonson’s authentic letters. These include the letter he wrote in 1605, during this Eastward imprisonment, wherein Jonson asks Percy to help free him from being implicated in seditious remarks that he claims were Percy’s portion of the composition. The annotations across Variety provide a myriad of scholarly revelations, supported with precise evidence. One of these is new proof for the misdating for several antique-like forgeries of broadsheet ballads. Introductory sections explain why this play has been mis-attributed to “William Cavendish”, and the complex biographical overlaps between the Jonson and “John Donne” bylines and handwriting styles. The historical introduction to the types of dance-instructors Variety is satirizing is assisted by the translation from French into English of fragments from Apologie de la Danse or Apology for the Dance by “Par F. de Lauze” (1623).

Acronyms and Figures


Plot and Staging

The Letters of Ben Jonson and “John Donne”

“Francois de Lauze’s” Apology for the Dance (1623)


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Gabriel Harvey

The Tragicomedy of the Virtuous Octavia “Done by Samuel Brandon” (1598)

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The first English self-labeled “tragicomedy” about Octavia’s failed attempts to win back her inconstant husband, Antony, from his Egyptian lover, Cleopatra, and to prevent her brother, Octavius, from waging retaliatory war on Antony and Cleopatra.

This volume presents overwhelming evidence for the re-attribution of the “Samuell Brandon”-bylined The Virtuous Octavia (1598) to Gabriel Harvey. The introduction raises questions about potential attribution leads and revealing relevant sources, which are answered with the evidence in the “Primary Sources” section that includes: three letters exchanged between William Byrd and Harvey while both were teaching at Cambridge, the “Octavia to Anthony” poetic epistle from the Arundel Harington Manuscript, and fragments from Plutarch’s “Mark Antony” chapter. The “Exordium” includes sections that present revealing clues in seemingly mundane details, such as this play’s typesetting. Another introductory section explains how Gerard Langbaine created the first “Brandon” biography solely based on the evidence presented in the Virtuous play, and without any evidence to support that “Brandon” was indeed a real author, and not merely a fictitious pseudonym. The imaginative process Langbaine used to manufacture “Brandon’s” biography is used to explain how scholars have communally arrived at the erroneous current attributions for the texts of the British Renaissance. A section on Harvey’s literary style explains how the texts Harvey ghostwrote differ from the patterns seen in the other Workshop ghostwriters’ texts. Another section presents visual examples of Harvey’s handwriting in his signed annotations on Domenichi’s Facetie, on “J. Harvey’s” A Discursive Problem Concerning Prophesies, and on Nicolai Machiavelli Princeps, and matches these to the handwriting styles currently assigned to two bylines Harvey ghostwrote under: “Edmund Spenser’s” poem on a copy of Sabinus’ Poëmata and “Elizabeth I’s” letter in Italian to Don Ferdinando de Medici, Grand-Duke of Tuscany. Another section explains how the two dedications to “the virtuous… Mary Thynne” and “the virtuous Lady Lucia Audley” are subversive clues that explain Virtuous Octavia as Harvey’s rebuttal to Percy’s at first anonymous and later “Shakespeare”-bylined Romeo and Juliet (1597). Romeo’s plot has long been suspected to be grounded in the contemporary story of Mary Thynne’s marriage to a member of a rival family, as well as the subsequent violence and litigations over this star-crossed-marriage between Mary’s mother, Lady Audley, and other members of their two clans. And a section on imitation-clusters explains that Virtuous Octavia falls into several sub-genre clusters that turn into an original formula when they are mixed together. These clusters include imitations and translations of the French dramatist Robert Garnier; adaptations of historical plotlines from Plutarch’s Lives; and imitations of Seneca’s tragedies. One of the latter tragedies by Seneca is also called Octavia, and it is about Emperor Nero’s wife of this same name, which had been translated into English by “T. N.” back in 1581. There are also explanation for the seemingly deliberately misdated historical details, such as the mixed references to events that involved M. Marcellus (270-208 BC; 5-time Consul) and G. Marcellus (88-40 BC; 1-time Consul; first husband of Octavia). And sections summarize Virtuous Octavia’s critical reception, give ideas to directors on approaches to its staging, and present an extensive synopsis of its narrative.

This verse tragicomedy begins after the Treaty of Tarentum has been signed, renewing the power-split of Roman territories between three Emperors: Octavia’s brother Octavius is awarded the West, Octavia’s husband Antony is awarded the East, and Lepidus receives Africa. Octavia receives news that Antony is living with Cleopatra. When Octavia attempts to bring military reinforcements and to speak with Antony to convince him to return to her, Antony refuses to allow her to come near him. The news of this infidelity enrages Octavius, who decides it is an affront on his own honor, and uses it as a pretext to wage war against Antony, despite Octavia’s continuing petitions for peace and reconcilement. Civil and foreign wars are raging in the background, but most of the play focuses on Octavia’s philosophical and emotional struggle to comprehend why Antony has chosen to sin, and how she is stoically determined to remain constant and virtuous. In a brief mention in the resolution, Cleopatra causes Antony’s tragic death by tricking him into believing she has killed herself, before indeed killing herself. In the forefront of this conclusion, Octavia explains why she continues to be committed to virtuous conduct, despite all that has happened, and to take care of Antony’s children, even when she has to do so outside of Antony’s house (from which he has forcefully evicted her).

Acronyms and Figures


Plot and Staging

Primary Sources

Letters Between Byrd and Harvey

“Octavia to Anthony”: Poem from “Daniel’s” Arundel Harington Manuscript

Fragments About Octavia from “Thomas North’s” Translation of Plutarch’s “The Life of Mark Antony”


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

William Byrd

A Comparative Study of Byrd Songs

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A comparative anthology of all of the variedly-bylined texts in William Byrd’s linguistic-group, with scholarly introductions that solve previously impenetrable literary mysteries.

This is a comparative anthology of William Byrd’s multi-bylined verse, with scholarly introductions to their biographies, borrowings, and generic and structural formulas. The tested Byrd-group includes 30 texts with 29 different bylines. Each of these texts is covered in a separate chronologically-organized section. This anthology includes modernized translations of some of the greatest and the wittiest poetry of the Renaissance. Some of these poems are the most famous English poems ever written, while others have never been modernized before. These poems serve merely as a bridge upon which a very different history of early British poetry and music is reconstructed, through the alternative history of the single ghostwriter behind them. This history begins with two forgeries that are written in an antique Middle English style, while simultaneously imitating Virgil’s Eclogues: “Alexander Barclay’s” claimed translation of Pope Pius II’s Eclogues (1514?) and “John Skelton’s” Eclogues (1521?). The next attribution mystery solved is how only a single poem assigned to “Walter Rawely of the Middle Temple” (when Raleigh is not known to have been a member of this Inn of Court) in The Steal Glass: A Satire (1576) has snowballed into entire anthologies of poetry that continue to be assigned to “Raleigh” as their “author”. Matthew Lownes assigned the “Edmund Spenser”-byline for the first time in 1611 to the previously anonymous Shepherds’ Calendar (1579) to profit from the popularity of the appended to it Fairy Queen. And “Thomas Watson” has been credited with creating Hekatompathia (1582), when this was his first book-length attempt in English; and this collection has been described as the first Petrarchan sonnet sequence in English, when actually most of these poems have 18-line, instead of 14-line stanzas. Byrd’s self-attributed Psalms, Sonnets, and Songs (1588) includes several lyrics that have since been re-assigned erroneously to other bylines in this collection, such as “My Mind to Me a Kingdom Is” being re-assigned to “Sir Edward Dyer”. The Byrd chapter also describes the history of his music-licensing monopoly. The “University Wit” label is reinterpreted as being applied to those who completed paper-degrees with help from ghostwriters, as exemplified in “Robert Greene’s” confession that “his” Pandosto and Menaphon were “so many parricides”, as if these obscene topics were forced upon him without his participation in the authorial process. “Philip Sidney’s” Astrophil and Stella (1591) is showcased as an example of erroneous autobiographical interpretations of minor poetic references; for example, the line “Rich she is” in a sonnet that puns repeatedly on the term “rich”, has been erroneously widely claimed by scholars to prove that Sidney had a prolonged love-interest in “Lady Penelope Devereux Rich”. Similarly, Thomas Lodge’s 1592-3 voyage to South America has been used to claim his special predilection for “sea-studies”, in works such as Phillis (1593), when adoring descriptions of the sea are common across the Byrd-group. Alexander Dyce appears to have assigned the anonymous Licia (1593) to “Giles Fletcher” in a brief note in 1843, using only the evidence of a vague mention of an associated monarch in a text from another member of the “Fletcher” family. One of the few blatantly fictitiously-bylined Renaissance texts that have not been re-assigned to a famous “Author” is “Henry Willobie’s” Avisa (1594) that invents a non-existent Oxford-affiliated editor called “Hadrian Dorrell”, who confesses to have stolen this book, without “Willobie’s” permission. Even with such blatant evidence of satirical pseudonym usage or potential identity-fraud, scholars have continued to search for names in Oxford’s records that match these bylines. “John Monday’s” Songs and Psalms (1594) has been labeled as one of the earliest madrigal collections. 1594 was the approximate year when Byrd began specializing in providing ghostwriting services for mostly university-educated musicologists, who used these publishing credits to obtain music positions at churches such as the Westminster Abbey, or at Court. An Oxford paper-degree helped “Thomas Morley” become basically the first non-priest Gospeller at the Chapel Royal. The section on “Morley’s” Ballets (1595) describes the fiscal challenges Morley encountered when the music-monopoly temporarily transitioned from Byrd’s direct control to his. “John Dowland’s” First Book of Songs or Airs (1597) is explained as a tool that helped Dowland obtain an absurdly high 500 daler salary from King Christian IV of Denmark in 1600, and his subsequent equally absurd willingness to settle for a £21 salary in 1612 to become King James I’s Lutenist. And the seemingly innocuous publication of “Michael Cavendish’s” 14 Airs in Tablature to the Lute (1598) is reinterpreted, with previously neglected evidence, as actually a book that was more likely to have been published in 1609, as part of the propaganda campaign supporting Lady Arabella Stuart’s succession to the British throne; the attempt failed and led to Arabella’s death during a hunger-strike in the Tower, and to the closeting of Airs. “William Shakespeare’s” The Passionate Pilgrim (1599) has been dismissed by scholars as only containing a few firmly “Shakespearean” poems, in part because nearly all of its 20 poems had appeared under other bylines. Passionate’s poems 16, 17, 19 and 20 are included, with an explanation of the divergent—“Ignoto”, “Shakespeare” and “Marlowe”—bylines they were instead assigned to in England’s Helicon (1600). Scholars have previously been at a loss as to identity of the “John Bennet” of the Madrigals (1599), and this mystery is solved with the explanation that this byline is referring to Sir John Bennet (1553-1627) whose £20,000 bail, was in part sponsored with a £1,200 donation from Sir William Byrd. “John Farmer’s” First Set of English Madrigals (1599) is reinterpreted as a byline that appears to have helped Farmer continue collecting on his Organist salary physically appearing for work, between a notice of absenteeism in 1597 and 1608, when the next Organist was hired. “Thomas Weelkes’” Madrigals (1600) is reframed as part of a fraud that managed to advance Weelkes from a menial laborer £2 salary at Winchester to a £15 Organist salary at Chichester. He was hired at Chichester after somehow finding around £30 to attain an Oxford BA in Music in 1602, in a suspicious parallel with the Dean William Thorne of Chichester’s degree-completion from the same school; this climb was followed by one of the most notorious Organist tenures, as Weelkes was repeatedly cited for being an absentee drunkard, and yet Dean Thorne never fired him. “Richard Carlton’s” Madrigals (1601) also appears to be an inoffensive book, before the unnoticed by scholars “Mus 1291/A” is explained as torn-out prefacing pages that had initially puffed two schemers that were involved in the conspiracy of Biron in 1602. The British Library describes Hand D in “Addition IIc” of Sir Thomas More as “Shakespeare’s only surviving literary manuscript”; this section explains Byrd’s authorship of verse fragments, such as “Addition III”, and Percy’s authorship of the overall majority of this censored play; the various handwritings and linguistic styles in the More manuscript are fully explained. “Michael Drayton’s” Idea (1603-1619) series has been explained as depicting an autobiographical life-long obsession with the unnamed-in-the-text “Anne Goodere”, despite “Drayton’s” apparent split-interest also in a woman called Matilda (1594) and in male lovers in some sprinkled male-pronoun sonnets. “Michael East’s” Second Set of Madrigals (1606) is one of a few music books that credit “Sir Christopher Hatton” as a semi-author due to their authorship at his Ely estate; the many implications of these references are explored. “Thomas Ford’s” Music of Sundry Kinds (1607) serves as a gateway to discuss a group of interrelated Jewish Court musicians, included Joseph Lupo (a potential, though impossible to test, ghostwriter behind the Byrd-group), and open cases of identity-fraud, such as Ford being paid not only his own salary but also £40 for the deceased “John Ballard”. “William Shakespeare’s” Sonnets (1609) are discussed as one of Byrd’s mathematical experiments, which blatantly do not adhering to a single “English sonnet” formula, as they include deviations such as poems with 15 lines, six couplets, and a double-rhyme-schemes. The poems that have been erroneously assigned to “Robert Devereux” are explained as propaganda to puff his activities as a courtier, when he was actually England’s top profiteer from selling over £70,000 in patronage, knighthoods and various other paper-honors. “Orlando Gibbons’” or “Sir Christopher Hatton’s” First Set of Madrigals and Motets (1612) describes the lawsuit over William Byrd taking over a Cambridge band-leading role previously held by William Gibbons, who in retaliated by beating up Byrd and breaking his instrument. This dispute contributed to Byrd and Harvey’s departure from Cambridge. Byrd’s peaceful life in academia appears to be the period that Byrd was thinking back to in 1612, as he was reflecting on his approaching death in the elegantly tragic “Gibbons’” First songs.

Acronyms and Figures


Handwriting Analysis: Byrd-Group

“Alexander Barclay’s” Translation of Pope Pius II’s Eclogues (1530?)

“John Skelton’s” Pithy, Pleasant and Profitable Works (1568)

“Sir Walter Raleigh’s” Poems Between 1576 and 1604

“Edmund Spenser’s” Shepherds’ Calendar (1579)

“Thomas Watson’s” Hekatompathia or Passionate Century of Love (1582)

William Byrd’s Psalms, Sonnets, and Songs of Sadness and Piety (1588)

“Sir Edward Dyer’s” Poems Between 1588 and 1620

“Robert Greene’s” Poems in Menaphon (1589) and Dorastus and Fawnia (1588/1696)

“Philip Sidney’s” Astrophil and Stella (1591)

“Thomas Lodge’s” Phillis (1593)

“Giles Fletcher’s” Licia (1593)

“Henry Willobie’s” Avisa (1594)

“John Monday’s” Songs and Psalms (1594)

“Thomas Morley’s” Ballets (1595)

“John Dowland’s” First Book of Songs or Airs (1597)

“Michael Cavendish’s” 14 Airs in Tablature to the Lute (1598)

“William Shakespeare’s” The Passionate Pilgrim (1599)

“John Bennet’s” Madrigals (1599)

“John Farmer’s” First Set of English Madrigals (1599)

“Thomas Weelkes’” Madrigals (1600)

“Richard Carlton’s” Madrigals (1601)

“Anthony Monday”, “Henry Chettle” and “William Shakespeare’s” Sir Thomas More, “Addition III” (Censored: 1592-1603)

“Michael Drayton’s” Idea (1603-1619)

“Michael East’s” Second Set of Madrigals (1606)

“Thomas Ford’s” Music of Sundry Kinds (1607)

“William Shakespeare’s” Sonnets (1609)

“Robert Devereux’s” Poems (1610)

“Orlando Gibbons” or “Sir Christopher Hatton’s” First Set of Madrigals and Motets (1612)

Terms, References, Questions, Exercises


Introduction to Part III

Richard Verstegan

A Restitution for Decayed Intelligence in Antiquities (1605)

Click on the links to purchase on Amazon: Softcover: 506pp, 7X10, $31: 979-8-375813-50-9; Hardcover: $36: 979-8-375814-03-2; Kindle: $9.99; Overdrive EBook: 978-1-68114-574-7; LCCN: 2023932018; Nonfiction—History—Europe—Great Britain. Volume 18. Release: February 10, 2023.

The launch of Britain’s “Anglo-Saxon” origin-myth and the first Old English etymological dictionary.

This is the only book in human history that presents a confessional description of criminal forgery that fraudulently introduced the legendary version of British history that continues to be repeated in modern textbooks. Richard Verstegan was the dominant artist and publisher in the British Ghostwriting Workshop that monopolized the print industry across a century. Scholars have previously described him as a professional goldsmith and exiled Catholic-propaganda publisher, but these qualifications merely prepared him to become a history forger and multi-sided theopolitical manipulator. The BRRAM series’ computational-linguistic method attributes most of the British Renaissance’s theological output, including the translation of the King James Bible, to Verstegan as its ghostwriter. Beyond providing handwriting analysis and documentary proof that Verstegan was the ghostwriter behind various otherwise bylined history-changing texts, this translation of Verstegan’s self-attributed Restitution presents an accessible version of a book that is essential to understanding the path history took to our modern world. On the surface, Restitution is the first dictionary of Old English, and has been credited as the text that established Verstegan as the founder of “Anglo-Saxon” studies. The “Exordium” reveals a much deeper significance behind these firsts by juxtaposing them against Verstegan’s letters and the history of the publication of the earliest Old English texts to be printed starting in 1565 (at the same time when Verstegan began his studies at Oxford). Verstegan is reinterpreted as the dominant forger and (self)-translator of these frequently non-existent manuscripts, whereas credit for these Old English translations has been erroneously assigned to puffed bylines such as Archbishop Parker and the Learned Camden’s Society of Antiquaries. When Verstegan’s motives are overlayed on this history, the term “Anglo-Saxon” is clarified as part of a Dutch-German propaganda campaign that aimed to overpower Britain by suggesting it was historically an Old German-speaking extension of Germany’s Catholic Holy Roman Empire. These ideas regarding a “pure” German race began with the myth of a European unified origin-myth, with their ancestry stemming from Tuisco, shortly after the biblical fall of Babel; Tuisco is described variedly as a tribal founder or as an idolatrous god on whom the term Teutonic is based. This chosen-people European origin-myth was used across the colonial era to convince colonized people of the superiority of their colonizers. A variant of this myth has also been reused in the “Aryan” pure-race theory; the term Aryan is derived from Iran; according to the theology Verstegan explains, this “pure” Germanic race originated with Tuisco’s exit from Babel in Mesopotamia or modern-day Iraq, but since Schlegel’s Über (1808) introduced the term “Aryan”, this theory’s key-term has been erroneously referring to modern-day Iran in Persia. Since Restitution founded these problematic “Anglo-Saxon” ideas, the lack of any earlier translation of it into Modern English has been preventing scholars from understanding the range of deliberate absurdities, contradictions and historical manipulations behind this text. And the Germanic theological legend that Verstegan imagines about Old German deities such as Thor (Zeus: thunder), Friga (Venus: love) and Seater (Saturn) is explained as part of an ancient attempt by empires to demonize colonized cultures, when in fact references to these deities were merely variants of the Greco-Roman deities’ names that resulted from a degradation of Vulgar Latin into early European languages. Translations of the earlier brief versions of these legends from Saxo (1534; 1234?), John the Great (1554) and Olaus the Great (1555) shows how each subsequent “history” adds new and contradictory fictitious details, while claiming the existence of the preceding sources proves their veracity. This study also questions the underlying timeline of British history, proposing instead that DNA evidence for modern-Britons indicates most of them were Dutch-Germans who migrated during Emperor Otto I’s reign (962-973) when Germany first gained control over the Holy Roman Empire, and not in 477, as the legend of Hengist and Horsa (as Verstegan satirically explains, both of these names mean horse) dictates. The history of the origin of Celtic languages (such as Welsh) is also undermined with the alternative theory that they originated in Brittany on France’s border, as opposed to the current belief that British Celts brought the Celtic Breton language into French Brittany when they invaded it in the 9th century. There are many other discoveries across the introductory and annotative content accompanying this translation to stimulate further research.

Acronyms and Figures


Verstegan’s Publishing Technique

Earliest “Anglo-Saxon” Texts Published in England

“Archbishop Parker’s” Antiquarian Project (1565-1575)

The Percys’ Patronage of the Workshop (1580-1597)

“Learned Camden’s” Society of Antiquaries (1590-1607)

The “Cowell” Revenge-Attribution: Plagiarism and Innovation in Saxon Dictionaries 

British Pagan and Christian Origin Myths

Scientific Evidence and Its Manipulation in Establishing the Origin of Britons and Europeans

Critical Reception of Restitution

Verstegan’s Handwriting


Primary Sources

The Northern Theological Histories of Saxo (1534; 1234?), John the Great (1554) and Olaus the Great (1555)


1. Of the origin of nations

2. How the Saxons are the true ancestors of Englishmen

3. Of the ancient manner of living of our Saxon ancestors

4. Of the isle of Albion

5. Of the arrival of the Saxons into Britain

6. Of the Danes and the Normans

7. Our ancient English tongue, and explanation of Saxon words

8. The etymologies of the ancient Saxon proper names of men and women

9. How by the surnames it may be discerned from where they take their origins

10. Titles of honor, dignities and offices, and names of disgrace or contempt

References, Questions, Exercises

Gabriel Harvey

Smith: Or, The Tears of the Muses (1578)

Click on the links to purchase on Amazon: Softcover: 250pp, 7X10”, $24: 979-8-375816-71-5; Hardcover: $29: 979-8-375817-17-0; Kindle: $9.99; Overdrive EBook: 978-1-68114-575-4; LCCN: 2023932026; Nonfiction—Biography & Autobiography—Criminals & Outlaws. Volume 19. Release: February 8, 2023.

A poetic satire of ghostwriters being hired to write puffery of and by patrons and sponsors, who pay to gain immortal fame for being “great”, while failing to perform any work to deserve any praise.

This volume shows the similarities across Gabriel Harvey’s poetic canon stretching from his critically-ignored self-attributed Smith (1578), his famous “Edmund Spenser”-bylined Fairy Queen (1590), and his semi-recognized “Samuel Brandon”-bylined Virtuous Octavia (1598). This close analysis of Smith is essential for explaining all of Harvey’s multi-bylined output because Smith is an extensive confession about Harvey’s ghostwriting process. Harvey’s Fairy Queen is his mature attempt at an extensive puffery of a monarch, which has been (as Harvey predicted in Smith and Ciceronianus) in return over-puffed as a “great” literary achievement by monarchy-conserving literary scholars across the past four hundred years. The relatively superior in its condensed social message and literary achievement Smith has been ignored in part because the subject of its puffery appears trivial from the perspective of national propaganda. Smith: Or, The Tears of the Muses is a metered poetic composition that can also be performed as a multi-monologue play. The central formulaic structure is grounded in nine Cantos that are delivered by each of the nine Muses; this formula appeared in many British poems and interludes after its appearance in “Nicholas Grimald’s” translation of a “Virgil”-assigned poem called “The Muses” in Songs and Sonnets (1557). The repetitive nature of this puffing formula is subverted not only by the satirical and ironic contradictions that are mixed with the standard exaggerated flatteries of “Sir Thomas Smith” (Elizabeth’s Secretary), but also with several seemingly digressive sections that puff and satirize other bylines, including “Walter Mildmay” (King’s Councilor) and “John Wood” (“Smith’s” copyist and nephew). The central subject of the satire in Smith is Richard Verstegan’s career as a goldsmith, who forged antiques, and committed identity fraud that included ghostwriting books under multiple bylines, including passing himself (as Harvey points out) as at least two different “Sir Thomas Smiths”. The introduction to this volume includes matching handwritten letters that were written by Smith #1 (who died in 1577) and Smith #2 (who died in 1625) and by Verstegan under his own byline. In Smith’s conclusion, Verstegan responds with ridicule of his own directed at Harvey. This is the first full translation of Smith from Latin into English. The accompanying introductory matter, extensive annotations, and class exercises hint at the many scholarly discoveries attainable by researchers who continue the exploration of this elegant work.

Acronyms and Figures


Biographies of Sir Smith and Connected Persons

The Many “Smiths” and Their Matching Handwriting


English Translation of Smith/ Latin Original Smithus Text

Terms, References, Questions, Exercises

Josuah Sylvester

Job Triumphant in His Trial and The Woodman’s Bear (1620)

Click on the links to purchase on Amazon: Softcover: 202pp, 6X9”, $22: 979-8-375822-54-9; Hardcover: $27: 979-8-375822-67-9; Kindle: $9.99; Overdrive EBook: 978-1-68114-576-1; LCCN: 2023932025; Nonfiction—Bibles—Other Translations—Text. Volume 20. Release: February 10, 2023.

The first verse English translation of the Book of Job, and a fantasy epic poem about the woeful love between the Woodman and the Bear.

Computational, handwriting, and other types of evidence proves that Josuah Sylvester ghostwrote famous dramas and poetry, including the first “William Shakespeare”-bylined book Venus and Adonis (1593), the “Robert Greene”-bylined Orlando Furioso (1594) and the two “Mary Sidney”-assigned translations of Antonie (1592) and Clorinda (1595). Sylvester is also the ghostwriter behind famously puzzling attribution mysteries, such as the authorship of the anonymous “Shakespeare”-apocrypha Locrine (1595), and behind controversial productions such as the “Cyril Tourneur”-bylined Atheist’s Tragedy (1611). All of the famous texts that Sylvester ghostwrote have previously been modernized and annotated. In contrast, most of Sylvester’s many volumes of self-attributed works have remained unmodernized and thus inaccessible to modern scholars. This neglect is unwarranted since under his own name, Sylvester served as the Poet Laureate between 1606-12 under James I’s eldest son, Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales. This volume addresses this scholarly gap by translating two works that capture Sylvester’s central authorial tendencies. As “John Vicars’” poetic biography argues, Sylvester was a “Christian-Israelite” or a Jew who converted to Christianity, which caused his exile from his native England and his early death abroad. Sylvester’s passion for his Jewish heritage is blatant in the percentage of texts in his group that are based on books in the Old Testament, including the “George Peele”-bylined Love of King David (1599) and the “R. V.”-bylined Odes in Imitation of the Seven Penitential Psalms (1601). This volume presents the first Modern English translation of the only verse Early Modern English translation of the Book of Job. The original Hebrew version’s dialogue is in verse, so that it can be sung or recited during services, and yet there still have not been any scholarly attempts to translate the Old Testament, from versions such as the Verstegan and Harvey-ghostwritten King James Bible, into verse to better approximate this original lyrical structure. Sylvester precisely translates all of the lines and chapters of Job, adding detailed embellishments for dramatic tension and realism. In the narrative, God is challenged by Lucifer to test if Job would remain loyal to God even if he lost his wealth and other blessings; God accepts the challenge and deprives Job of all of his possessions, his family, as well as his health. Job is devastated, but he remains humble and continues to have faith in God. Job’s faith is further challenged by extensive lectures from his friends, who accuse him of suffering because God has judged him to be sinful and in need of punishment. Sylvester also specialized in dreamlike rewriting and remixing of myths from different cultures, as he does in Orlando Furioso, where the narrative leaps between Africa and India, and warfare leads Orlando to go insane. The title-page of Sylvester’s Woodman’s Bear warns readers of a similar trajectory with the epithet: “everybody goes mad once”. In this epic, Greco-Roman-inspired, mythological rewriting, a Woodman has proven to be uniquely resistant to Cupid’s love-arrows, so Cupid disguises himself in a Bear and makes both the Bear and the Woodman fall into desperate love for each other, out of which the Woodman only escape with a magic potion. Woodman’s Bear has been broadly claimed to have been Sylvester’s autobiographical account of a failed courtship, but the analysis across this volume reaches different conclusions and raises ideas for further inquiry.


Synopsis of the Book of Job

Synopsis of the Woodman’s Bear

“John Vicars’” Memorial Biography of Josuah Sylvester

Job Triumphant in His Trial

The Woodman’s Bear


Terms, References, Questions, Exercises


Imaginator Guest featured-lecture at the Imaginarium conference, July 8-10, 2022, Louisville, KY. Schedule: Saturday, 10 am: Indie vs Traditional Publishing (RM Claiborne); Saturday, 1:30 pm: The Steps to Solve Any Attribution Mystery Workshop (RM Triple Crown) (90 min); Sunday, 9am: What Editors Look for and do when Acquiring Stories (RM Carriage); Friday-Sunday: Vendor exhibit, available to discuss the BRAMM series with all who are interested.

Guest Speaker on “Re-Attribution of the British Renaissance” at the School of Liberal Arts of Uttaranchal University, India, February 7, 2022, 10pm CST: Free to Participate.


LibraryThing Interview:
Christopher Marlowe's Ghost Becomes an "Author"

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