A Post Stratfordian Shake-speare Blog
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The Chapman Solution

Earlier posts established an extremely strong case that the character of Medice in George Chapman’s The Gentleman Usher is an allusion to William Shakspere of Stratford.  From here, we can ask if other details about Medice in the play give us new information about Shakspere.  But we need to ask, are these details about Medice inserted by Chapman to allude to Shakespere?  Or are they simply carried over from the source used for the plot of the play?   Here’s Chapman scholar T.M. Parrot on the source for Usher.

“No source has yet been discovered for the story of The Gentleman Usher.

Chapman was by no means strong in invention, and I am inclined to believe him incapable of creating a story so simple, straightforward, and well-balanced as that of Vincentio and Margaret. On the other hand, if the story had already been dramatised, Chapman, who in All Fools and May Day had shown himself so capable an adapter, would hardly have floundered and stumbled through two whole acts before getting under way.

It is to this long delay in starting the action that I am inclined to attribute, in part at least, the strange neglect which has overtaken this most delightful of Chapman’s comedies. It requires no little patience in deed to push resolutely through the first two acts.”

There is a source for the love interest story line of the play, and Parrott notes how well those acts (3 and 4) flow dramatically. Acts 1 and 2 do not flow. Parrott complains about the delay in starting the action.  Why is this?  The plot of Acts 1 and 2 involves exposing Medice as a non-poet and a non-actor, and other points we’ll visit later. Acts one and two are bad theater because their primary purpose is to tell a story grounded in reality. It is not simply the character of Medice who is an allusion to a real person, but it is the greater sub-plot of Medice’s subterfuge that is the allusion. We should therefore expect other details about Medice that are revealed in the play to give us further information on William Shakspere and his curious transformation from county bumpkin to poseur playwright.

I propose that taken together, the information Chapman gives us about Medice and his circumstances comprises a solution to aspects of the Shakespeare Authorship Question. And given that Chapman’s evidence is as a first person eyewitness and particpant in the London theater scene at the time, his solution should be considered the default explanation for certain aspects of the Authorship Question.

Let’s examine one example we have at hand already. One question batted around by post-Stratfordians is whether William Shakepere was able to read and write.


Vincentio. Faith, I would fain disgrace him by all means,
As enemy to his base-bred ignorance,
That, being a great lord, cannot write nor read.
(I, i, 124-126)

Medice . My patience can digest your scoffs, my lord.
I care not to proclaim it to the world:
I can nor write nor read; and what of that?
I can both see and hear as well as you.
(I, i, 180-183)

Chapman is clear on this point, he alludes to Shakspere as an illiterate. The Chapman Solution provides an answer to the question of whether Shakspere could write. He could not. As we proceed, we’ll see that the Chapman Solution offers answers to other important authorship questions such as what was the relationship between the author and Shakspere and  what was the queen’s role in this business, and more.


October 5, 2013   2 Comments