Battle of the Oxfords

The regional UK paper Frome Times has announced an upcoming event that may be of interest to our readers:

Lutyens’ Mells Park is the venue for a hot debate on Who Was Shakespeare? between biographer and critic Alexander Waugh, grandson of Evelyn Waugh and advocate of the Oxfordian theory that Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, wrote the works of William Shakespeare, and Shakespeare scholar Clare Asquith (Countess of Oxford & Asquith) who will argue that Shakespeare was indeed the author of these works.This ‘Battle of the Oxfords’ will take place at 6.30pm for 7.00pm on Saturday 15th September at Mells Park and will be chaired by Professor Gerard Kilroy.

Clare Asquith, according to her Wikipedia entry “is a British independent scholar and author of Shadowplay: the Hidden Beliefs and Coded Politics of William Shakespeare, which has posited that Shakespeare was a covert Catholic whose works contain coded language which was used by the Catholic underground, particularly the Jesuits, in Reformation-era England, but also appealed to the monarchy in a plea for toleration.” She is the wife of Raymond Asquith (3rd Earl of Oxford and Asquith) who is the grandson of Waugh’s close friend Katharine Asquith. Waugh was his godfather and a frequent visitor to Katharine’s residence in Mells where Ronald Knox spent his last years. Raymond Asquith kindly hosted the 2011 conference of the Evelyn Waugh Society on a visit to Mells from their conference venue at nearby Downside Abbey. He is not related to the 17th Earl of Oxford. Prof Kilroy is co-editor of the Edmund Campion volume in the Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh.

Dinner is included in the ticket price. The following day there will be a performance of The Merchant of Venice in a nearby purpose-built Elizabethan theatre. Booking information is available from Claire da Costa, 01373 832113, claire@theelizabethanplay house,com.

Acorn TV has meanwhile announced the availability for streaming in the USA of the 2001 TV adaptation of Waugh’s novel Sword of Honour. This was adapted by novelist William Boyd for Channel 4 and features Daniel Craig as Guy Crouchback. The adaptation consists of two feature-length episodes with a total running time of 191 minutes. It will be available for streaming from 15 October.

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