interviewed by David Arscott
DAVID ARSCOTT-With me is Francis Carr. He may make you angry if you are a devoted Shakespearean who believes that Shakespeare wrote the words that are attributed to him. I am sure he is used to being told that he is a crank, but he has some evidence which he is going to put forward.
FRANCIS CARR - Everybody who opposes orthodox scholarship is called a crank,because that is the easiest stiletto word they can use to try and demolish somebody who has the impertinence or audacity to disagree with them.
DA- You are an author. Tell us about yourself.
FC- The books I have written have one thing in common; and that is they are about controversial matters. They deal with subjects which need investigation and objective analysis.
DA-What other subjects have you written about apart from Shakespeare?
FC-The first book I wrote was a study of European Erotic Art which many people, even Kenneth Clark, rather avoided because he felt it was a difficult subject to tackle and the very fact that it is a difficult subject to tackle makes it an interesting subject and one which needs a cold objective eye. The next book I wrote was on the most successful nasty I think the world has produced, and there have been quite a few obviously, but this, in my opinion, was the nastiest man in the world - Ivan the Terrible. That needed a cold unprejudiced eye because Russian historians are still under a censorship there; they cannot say fully what Ivan the Terrible did in his country because they feel that is a criticism of the Russians themselves, therefore a criticism of communism - they are still under censorship, so the only way to write an honest biography of Ivan the Terrible is to write it from outside Russia. That is the second book I wrote and I followed that up with the person who, for me, is the most marvelous man in the world and that is Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. I wrote the first domestic biography of Mozart.
DA-You also run the Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre which is based in Brighton and which, as we are going to hear, you put forward lots of arguments for the fact that Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare so lets first of all look at what we do know about William Shakesepeare. You'll say not very much.
FC-We don't know very much indeed - we don't know very much about Shakespeare- in fact we know so little that various writers whose words command respect are now admitting that Shakespeare is invisible. Hugh Trevor Roper has said 'Shakespeare is unidentifiable'; Germaine Greer has said in one of her books 'Shakespeare is anonymous'.
DA- But do they mean by that that Shakespeare doesn't bring his personality obviously to bear in the works - they don't mean he wasn't Shakespeare do they?
FC- No; it's the first stage of saying that the Shakespeare who has been presented to us as the author is, in fact, invisible - there is nothing that can be identified.
DA- What can we say? He went to Grammar School didn't he in Stratford?
FC- We are told that but there is absolutely no evidence for it, we are not sure about the date of Shakespeare's birth, there is no evidence for belief that the birthplace is the birthplace of Shakespeare. I am quoting; I am not giving my opinions; these are statements that have appeared in books written in the last 10 years; there is no evidence to justify the choice of April 23rd as the birthday of Shakespeare. Of William's education we know nothing, nobody knows where or when he married - there is no authentic portrait of Shakespeare.
DA- Well lets assume then, Francis, that he had humble enough beginnings, reasonably, not tremendously so, he went to Grammar School, apparently if he did - but that he later rose to fame with his plays. Do we know more about the later Shakespeare?
FC- No. The absence of information continues right to the end. We do not know where he was buried, in fact the grave which is presented in the Stratford Church as his grave has no name upon it. Now this is obviously deliberate. You do not leave out an inscription on a grave by mistake - 'Oh dear we have forgotten to put William Shakespeare's name on this grave'. The plays were famous in his day; so when somebody is buried in an unmarked grave, that is a clear case for investigation. Why is this supposedly famous man buried in an unmarked grave?
DA- Now do you believe that was the grave of this man - the man who was the actor, Shakespeare?
FC-THERE IS NO EVIDENCE; MOZART IS BURIED IN AN UNMARKED GRAVE, SHAKESPEARE IS BURIED IN AN UNMARKED GRAVE.
DA- But nobody, of course, suggests that somebody else wrote Mozart
FC- No, but immediately you find an unmarked grave that means, if it is a famous person, that there must be some reason for discouraging investigation,
DA- We are not talking about Mozart, but very briefly why is his unmarked?
FC- Because he was buried under suspicious circumstances; he was buried in a Pauper's grave - it makes me laugh to hear various writers and critics on the radio and television saying 'he wasn't buried in a pauper's grave but he was buried in a grave which, yes, paupers were buried sometimes but it was unmarked and he was a famous person'. I have been to the graveyard and there you will see the supposed graveyard of Mozart.
DA- So the same thing happened to Shakespeare; for what reason do you think?
FC- One has to investigate this. If you go to Stratford on Avon you will see that his family was buried there and their graves are marked and they were not celebrities. They didn't write any plays,but the great man himself is buried in an unmarked grave;and when you ask Stratford-on-Avon or in schools you are either given the fact that he was so well-known that he didn't need an inscription, which is a fatuous explanation, or that he wasn't very well known and so they didn't bother to put the inscription there, which is also fatuous.
DA- Well let's look at this sensibly then. The plays were famous in his lifetime - they were all played then, and were highly regarded at the time?
DA- Well how is it that we don't have evidence - I mean whether or not you think it was Shakespeare or Bacon or whoever else, it seems very odd that other people don't write about the plays and talk about this man Shakespeare who wrote them. Isn't it strange?
FC- It is strange, but there was a definite cover-up involved right from the start. The first five plays of Shakespeare, when they were printed in his lifetime, were printed without a name on them; and if you leave your name off your book, whether it is in the 16th century or the 20th century, it is not just a mistake. You can imagine what an author would feel when he gets the first copy of his novel or history - well printed, nice binding and everything; now he looks at the cover page and it says 'History of Eastbourne' but where is the name David Arscott?'God, they've left it out'
DA (Laughing) Yes, quite right. What else do we know about hi later on? For example, didn't he in his will give his second best bed to his wife? That's a fact that I seem to remember?
FC-There was a will, yes;the facts are now being faced up to and historians are realizing that this was an odd thing to do, to leave nothing to one's wife - there was no commendation, no words of praise for his wife, just the second best bed.
DA- Does this fit in with your theory about the man?
FC- Well that is a good example of the fatuity to which orthodox scholarship is reduced when they are having to say, I have read it in about 10 books, that the best bed was left for guests. Now in what household do you have your best bed reserved for your guest and you or your wife sleep in the second best bed?
DA- Having discussed what little we know about Shakespeare, tell us all we know about Francis Bacon - rather more of course.
FC- Two contemporary documents point unmistakably to Francis Bacon as the author of the plays. There is only one document of the period which contains the name of Shakespeare and that of one of the suggested alternative authors. This is in the Northumberland manuscript now at Alnick Castle. On the contents list, and this is factual, no professor, nobody can deny the existence of this document, I have seen it myself in Alnick Castle, on the contents list of the cover of this folder we read the following: By Mr Francis William Shakespeare, Richard II, Richard III, essays by the same author. At the head of the page is written Mr Francis Bacon of tribute or giving what is due. Now in that last sentence,"of giving what is due"is the whole answer to the question 'what does it matter?'. Of course it matters; we should give tribute, honour, praise where it is due.
DA-Right, well I understand your translating as it were that line to suggest that Bacon wrote these things, but tell us about the man himself. We are not absolutely sure about him are we in terms of his birth?
FC- There are questions that are raised both by his birth and his death. In the first biography of Francis Bacon by Dr. William Rawley, Bacon's Secretary and Chaplain - there was Mr Francis Bacon who had his own Secretary and Chaplain - in this biography it says 'Francis Bacon,the glory of his age and nation, the adorner and ornament of learning, was born in York House or York Place'. Now that is interesting when you get a contemporary biographer giving two different houses for the birth of the man he is writing about. York House was in the Strand, near the Watergate - the Watergate actually is right next to what was York House. York Place was a term used for Whitehall Palace. Surely Bacon's own Secretary, Chaplain and biographer would know where he was born.
DA- Well would he? I mean he wasn't there at the time.
FC- Oh yes,he was contemporary; he was his Secretary.
DA-I mean he wasn't there when he was born.
FC- No, but the term York Place has since been disused and forgotten; York Place was a term for Whitehall Palace so there was a hint; the hint has not been taken up.
DA- The hint as far as you are concerned is that Francis Bacon, who was a Mr. yet had all this money and this patronage was the son of Queen Elizabeth .
FC-Queen Elizabeth and Leicester.
FC- No; several years ago, five years ago, I brought out a Memorandum which I sent to the press and to various historians in which I put 25 facts together which point to the fact that he was the son of Queen Elizabeth and Leicester; even if one fact was wrong 'I was hoping that somebody would correct me in that, but no, it has not been corrected.
DA- Queen Elizabeth I clearly never said it, she wouldn't admit to such a thing would she? She was supposed to be -a Virgin Queen?
FC- Well, she found that it was much better to remain officially unmarried because then various statesmen and foreigners could hope there might be an alliance. But she realized that as long as she remained the head of the state, because in those days the Queen was the Prime Minister, then she would have no man dominating her.
DA-Is there any evidence from the time of people; in letters or in documents that have come down suggesting that she had this son and it was Francis Bacon?
FC-Well, this is where I can turn to A .L.Rowse. In his book, "The Elizabethan Renaissance" ,which is a book that I can recommend - it is a marvelous encyclopedia of knowledge about Elizabethan politics and culture - in Volume 1 he said "Of course in the country and abroad people talked about the Queen's relations with Leicester. In 1581 Henry Hawkins said that 'my lord Robert hath had five children by the Queen and she never goeth in progress but to be delivered'. Other such references occur in the State Papers." Others who went on record of saying that Elizabeth had children by Leicester:Ann Dow,imprisoned, Thomas Playfair,who said that Elizabeth had two children; he was imprisoned, Robert Gardener,who was pilloried and Diana Derek,who was pilloried.
DA- So let's assume for the sake of the argument that Elizabeth had children and Francis Bacon was one of them; he was singled out above the others was he for honours?
FC- Well the only two we know of that there is evidence for are Essex and Francis Bacon; and Essex and Francis Bacon were to start with close friends.
DA- Tell us about Bacon, I mean he was obviously an intellect, he traveled a lot.
FC- Francis Bacon is the greatest polymath, that is to say expert in many subjects; that England has produced. To ask people to believe that this man,William Shakespeare,who left school probably at age 13, if he did go to school at all, was the polymath of the age is to ask people to accept the impossible.
DA- We are always told when I was at school, that he got his plots from elsewhere) and you could actually check where he got his plots from; they were quite well known of the time stories which he got hold of himself and added to.
FC- In addition to having a plot you need to be a genius to write a play comparable to those of Shakespeare.
DA- Of course, but then there is nothing to stop a humble lad being a genius is there, just can he express himself ?
FC- Well this is it. If geniuses could express their genius and be known as geniuses,we would have geniuses appearing in countries where there was no education.
DA- But I will put it to you that you may have this character of Shakespeare who grew up reasonably humbly, went to Grammar School, got a good education, was very bright and was very open to the world around him and did quite a bit of reading and because he had this immense literary flair, to put it no higher, he could write these wonderful plays. Now what's the argument against that?
FC- Well the profession which leaves most evidence when you die)I would have thought is that of a writer. We are asked to accept Shakespeare's authorship by being given printed works. That is the equivalent of somebody by the name of George Elliot, in Victorian days, going into a study and saying 'yes Ibmy the writer of Mill on the Floss because there is my printed book George Elliot; therefore I am the author'. If you are an author, if you really are the author, and you take somebody into your study,you see papers lying around. Well,we have no documents of Shakespeare, not a single manuscript - this is a fact that the orthodox Shakespeare scholars prefer to gloss over, There is not even a laundry list, not even a line of a Shakespeare play in manuscript; all we have is 6 badly written signatures and the words 'by me'. So'by me,William Shakespeare that constitutes the entire written works of Shakespeare, as far as we know - 6 signatures.
DA-How do you suppose that Bacon would get his plays into the theatres then under this other name?
FC-Well,the use of pseudonym has often been employed by an author.
DA- But wasn't there an actual actor, you agree, called Shakespeare around?
FC-There was an actor, that is right .
DA- Would he give it the name of a humble actor ?
FC- Shakespeare, as far as we know, was spelt 'Shaksper'. It is quite possible that you might chose a fairly unusual name as a pseudonym for a play or a novel;and then it turns out that there is somebody by that unusual name, however unusual it is. You might pluck a very unusual name out of a book and use that name;and it so turns out that in the west country, say, there is somebody who says 'well that's my name . If you give me £1,000 or £10,000 I won't cause any trouble.
DA- Francis Bacon was a polymath; he was highly respected, well traveled. why shouldn't he also be a first rate author who was proud of the fact,and said ' here are the plays of Francis Bacon; they are being performed in London and other places'?
FC-This is the most important question, the central question that anybody can ask about the whole question of Shakespeare authorship, why the secrecy? The only answer that anybody could have for taking such trouble to keep his name out of the public eye while he was alive is, in my view, political, and there was a very important political reason for Francis Bacon keeping his name out of the public eye as an author and that is the dynastic question. He didn't want too much attention paid to him while he was alive because of his royal birth.
DA-But he was writing,wasn't he? He was writing other things.
FC- He wrote comparatively little under the name of Francis Bacon. If you look at the works of Horace Walpole for example, his letters occupy 50 volumes. Bacon's work written under his own name is small in comparison.
DA- So you think he was lying low as it were?
FC- That's right.
DA- Now you have got here a list of comparisons between Shakespeare and Bacon . You have for example the phrase 'wounds like a leaden sword in Love's Labours Lost' and then in Bacon's 'to slay you with a leaden sword' in Promus.
FC- That's right
DA- And you have got loads of these. Quite a lot of them seem to me fairly straight forward 'the ill wind which blows no man to good' and 'ill wind that blows no man to good' would seem to be simply part of the common currency even then. FC- They were not common currency then. If these quotations could be found in Beaumont and Fletcher or other contemporary authors, all right. But they are not. No Orthodox scholar includes a proper study of Bacon's writings in studying Shakespeare,because if he did, he would find quotation after quotation in the Shakespeare plays which occurs in Bacon's own writing, especially in his notebook. This is the important point. There is no Shakespeare notebook in existence and authors do like notebooks - but there happens to be a Shakespeare notebook in the British Museum and it is written by Francis Bacon. In The Promus he calls it 'Promus' which is Latin for a storehouse -you see countless quotations which are jottings, phrases, proverbs, which he has used, usually not in his own works, under the name of Francis Bacon, but in the Shakespeare plays.
DA- Well now take one here, 'a thorn is gentle when it is young' and Henry VI Part 3, 'can so young a thorn begin to prick? Now this, a thorn is gentle when it is young,was that actually published?
FC- No. The Promus was not published then. In 1883 it was published by Mrs.Henry Pott and then in 1910 a book came out which included part of The Promus in it. But Shakespeare scholars do not seem to know about it.
DA-Well, I mean Shakespeare couldn't have pinched it ?
FC-No, because the Promus is dated 1595-97.And it wasn't published in his lifetime.
DA- And there are many examples like that. What do the experts say when you put that evidence in front of them?
FC- They have nothing to say because this Promus is in Bacon's own hand writing. If Bacon was not the author of the plays, this book, the Promus, is the only book ever written in which one great man has troubled to write page after page of quotations which were later used by another. How many people know of the Northumberland Manuscript and the Promus?
DA- Can I just look at the style now. Quite clearly when he was writing other things Bacon wasn't writing for the stage, but here is something from a work called 'De Augmentis' in which he says 'old age,if it could be seen, deforms the mind more than the body'. There is something far bolder in Shakespeare,which is as with age his body uglier grows so his mind cancers'. Now we can see what you are saying there, the two are rather similar, but there is something much more vital about the Shakespearean sentence.
FC- Quite, but the thought can come to you first of all, and you can put that down in your notebook and then,when it comes to the writing of a play, which is comparable to writing a poem, you think of a more dramatic, poignant, moving way of expressing that.
DA- Yes. You, I know, have crossed swords with quite a few literary experts in the past; you have got a list of those you think are avoiding the truth about Shakespeare and Bacon.
FC- I would say that the crackpots and idiots of today are these, the people who believe something without any justification whatsoever, without any historical evidence: John Mortimer is a crackpot. A L Rowse is a crackpot- more and more people are realizing that he is certainly a crackpot. Joan Bakewell, Levi Fox, director of the Birthplace Trust, Anthony Burgess, Peter Levi' who has written a completely vapid biography of Shakespeare. Bernard Levin is a crackpot and Stanley Wells. I offer £1000 reward to those crackpots,the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust,to anybody listening to this programme,if they can come up with evidence that Shakespeare was the author of the plays.
DA-So here's a challenge to any of our listeners of £1000; but what on earth would count as evidence?
FC -Evidence that counts is evidence that is taken as evidence for the authorship of let us say Ben Johnson, Dr. Johnson, any author,Dante, Moliere. There isn't this controversy over Shelley or Keats or Byron. We know that they wrote the works they are supposed to have written.
DA- You argue obviously very well. You are practiced at it here. But let's just get down to what was going on in the theatres. I would like to imagine when a new play is delivered and officially it is by William Shakespeare, there is a fellow of that name who is playing bit parts for them in the theatre, Who would they have given it to do you suppose? This is asking you to imagine how it might have happened,but I think it is a realistic question isn't it?
FC-Could you explain that?
DA- Well, Bacon wants to get his play on in London.who did he give it to; to start with, because all the world thinks it is Shakespeare apparently.
FC- I don't see the problem here. Any play that comes on in London tomorrow, the authors name is given)but who it was, for all we know it might be somebody else, somebody just using the name of John Smith.
DA- In like case, somebody like Harold Pinter who after all has got the same equivalent sort of fame that Shakespeare had in his own day, very roughly speaking, what you are saying is that perhaps it wouldn't be Harold Pinter writing all these plays, he's the one who comes up front and smiles and has the interviews but somebody else is actually giving him the script for him to give to the theatres.
FC- Yes, anybody today or in Elizabethan days could use another name but, as I say when the first five plays were printed, whoever wrote those plays deliberately had his name left out. Now why should somebody who wants fame and fortune, who isn't afraid of the limelight, why should he keep his name out of the plays of his own works ?
DA- Let's come to what you regard as the latest piece of valuable evidence and this is a painting, Its called Venus and Adonis, its from the work of Shakespeare apparently, tell us where it is and what's the story of it.
FC- Well this painting dates from a few years after the publication of Venus and Adonis in 1593 experts from the Warburg Institute have concluded that the subject is definitely the death scene from Venus and Adonis .
DA- By Shakespeare.
FC- With its clear Rosicrucian symbolism it constitutes yet another indication that the author of the Shakespeare plays was Francis Bacon, who lived only two miles away at Gorhanbury.
DA- So here we have, in this pamphlet you have kindly given me, Venus and Adonis at the White Hart Inn, St. Albans, showing some of the scenes from this. There is for example a boar and you say the figure bears a distinct resemblance to the boar depicted in Bacon's crest.
FC-That's right. Central to this panel - only one panel has been discovered so far and uncovered so far is Adonis lying on the ground, wounded, and next to Adonis is the boar who has killed him,and above the boar and Adonis is a house which does bear some resemblance to Bacon's own house at Gorhambury .
DA-Yes, well I think we can see all that. Isn't it possible that Bacon in fact did have this done but based on William Shakespeare's work?
FC- Well, if there were a perfectly logical indication in this mural that it is related to Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon, you might expect some clue, some indication that this is so. What is interesting about it is that this was uncovered the first time in 1985, 5 years ago, so Oxford and Cambridge knew about it, Stratford on Avon knew about it, St. Albans knew about it, the press knew about it in London, publishers have known about it since then. Since then nothing, not one word,has come out from any of these people about this mural. Now, since last August it has been on view to the public, nothing has come out about this historical place of interest, this national treasure; nothing has come out apart from the leaflet I have produced myself. If there was anything wrong with this leaflet,it would have been pointed out. A friend of mine wrote, in fact, to Stratford-on-Avon back in September and asked them for an explanation. All they could come up with is that in Stratford- on-Avon there is a mural of a biblical nature, Tobit and the Angel, and that dates from 1550 which was before Shakespeare was alive; so,in other words,they were saying that I was correct in saying that this is the only Shakespeare painting,the only contemporary painting in the world of a Shakespeare work.
DA- But is there any reason why Bacon shouldn't have picked on the Shakespeare work and actually had it painted with scenes which, after all, were relevant to him. He was commissioning the work.
FC- Quite, but the answer to that is quite simple. Adonis is a key figure in Rosicrucian doctrine, as he represents the sun, while the boar represents winter. Bacon was the leader of the Rosicrucian movement in England at this time,and current Shakespeare scholarship's latest move, the latest trend in Shakespeare scholarship, is discovering, rather late in the day I must say,that Shakespeare is a European writer; he was much more aware of European thought than had previously been realized. Baconians could have told them that a long time ago. This is what they are discovering, that there is Rosicrucian doctrine in the Shakespeare plays ; Masonic elements do come in the Shakespeare plays, and this is quite understandable. Bacon was the leader of the Rosicrucians and Freemasonry of his age so it is natural that this comes into the plays, and here,in St.Albans staring us in the face is an illustration of a legend which not only refers to Adonis but it brings in the whole symbolism of the rose, which in ancient legend grew from the dead Adonis and the rose symbolized the reborn man with a new personality or name. Here is Francis Bacon killing himself off, as it were, killing the name of Bacon off as the author of the plays and giving himself a new identity with a new name, William Shakespeare. He was the head of a literary society and their symbol was Pallas Athena, the Shaker of the Spear of knowledge.
DA-Francis, I am sure you have stirred a lot of people up, some of whom will be very angry and say how dare he say this about our great national Bard, others may be saying well, let's have a bit more information so how do they get in touch with you?
FC Well, all they need do is to write to the Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre and I can give you the address.
DA- It has been most entertaining talking to you about this subject. I'm going to say I am still agnostic about this one - I think it's the best I can say, but supposing one of our listeners comes up with the incontrovertible evidence that you are wrong and you have got to fork out that £1000, quite apart from losing your money, you're going to feel a bit sad aren't you?
FC- No, the whole purpose of the Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre is to discover at long last who wrote the plays. If it turns out to be Shakespeare,this will be a great discovery, because no professor in the country, nobody so far has been able to say with 100% proof that Shakesepeare was the author.
DA- Perhaps we shall see. Francis thank you very much.