Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Wednesday, April 23, 2003  

Nicholas beat me to the punch this morning in wishing dear Mr. Will Shakespeare a happy (439th?) birthday, and he stole the sonnet I was going to quote, to boot!

Anyway, today is generally held to be Shakespeare's DOB. It is also generally held to be the day he died in 1616, along with Miguel de Cervantes, though some say he died on April 22 (Spain was using the Gregorian calendar at the time and England, the Julian, hence the possible discrepancy).

Of course there is the theory (not widely held, but still utterly fascinating) that Shakespeare and Cervantes were one and the same person, namely Francis Bacon. Francis Carr of the Shakespeare Authorship Information Centre offers the following compelling evidence:

"Over and over again in Don Quixote -- 33 times in fact -- we are told that the real author is an Arab historian, Cid Hamet Benengeli. There is no such person. Cid is a Spanish title, a lord; it is a word of high esteem. Hamet is one letter short of Hamlet; Ben is Hebrew for son, Engeli could mean of England. I will not take you into the complicated world of cipher, but the simplest of all ciphers is the numerical one, in which A is 1, B is 2, C is 3 - and so on. If you turn BACON into a number, using this cipher, it would be 2,1,3,14,13, which, added up, makes 33. Why repeat 33 times in a single novel that the real author is a non-existent historian with a strange name?"

Why, indeed? Anyway, whatever the speculation, considering Shakespeare and Cervantes are generally held to have died on this day, and also possibly because Wordsworth also shuffled off his mortal coil on April 23, today was declared by UNESCO World Book Day.

posted by Jonathan | 9:38 AM 0 comments


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