Drystone, an Analytical Approach — entry

But this interjection appeared to him so absurd that he was at a loss how to deal with it.  So looks the Shakespearian who is confronted by a rancid Baconian, or the astronomer who is assailed by a flat earth fanatic.
The Lost World, Arthur Conan Doyle.

And all this came in very pat, one thing leading to another, till, my dear fellow, I just couldn't help turning my attention in a certain direction.  A hundred rabbits don't make a horse and a hundred suspicions don't make one single proof, I believe the English say, and that's just common sense; but a man can't get the better of his passions, not of his own passions.
Porfiry, Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky, translation Magarshack.

For every evil under the sun,
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try and find it,
If there be none, never mind it.
English Proverbs, William C. Hazlitt, 1869.

To cook your hare you must first catch it.
Shatov, The Possessed, Dostoyevsky, translation Constance Garnett.

Site continually under refinement. ;-)


Brenda James, in her book Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code, argues that the works attributed to William Shakespeare are in fact the works of Henry Neville, a contemporary of Shakespeare well known as a traveller and an English ambassador and for being associated with the Earl of Essex's uprising.

Jonathan Bond, in his book The De Vere Code, is considerably less ambitious; he argues that only the sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare in the 1609 publication were composed by Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.  He is somewhat ambivalent about the contribution of de Vere to the writing of Shakespeare's plays.

Both authors also present data that they have deduced by "decoding" the controversial dedication to Shakespeare's sonnets and by finding clues buried in Shakespeare's texts.

Brenda James decoding research is supplemented by the work of James Goding and Bruce Leyland.

The difficulty that I have, and I suspect others have also, is in making an objective evaluation of the decoded material.  What is "little doubt" or unmistakable (BJ113) to one person may be mere speculation or coincidence to another.  How do we determine a confidence figure (as we do when evaluating numerical data) for data which have been obtained by a sequence of processes which are admitted to be hunches and seemingly selected from a myriad of alternatives on the basis that they give the desired outcome?

Consider a well constructed drystone wall – a set of stones assembled to give a precise geometric structure.  The mason started with a tumble of miscellaneous chunks of rock and produced, by a process of selection, orientation, placement and experimentation, a very ordered structure.  Yet no one would suggest that the geometry of the wall had been originally encoded in the stones.

Some other aspects of the Shakespeare authorship question are also considered here.  The site will be updated occasionally.

Mal Haysom

Hercule Poirot:

In the film Evil Under the Sun (directed Guy Hamilton) Hercule Poirot is to solve a murder that has taken place on a Mediterranean island.  There are some dozen suspects (guests at a hotel) – each with an alibi.  After amassing his data Poirot (a slave to the who-done-it tradition) calls the guests together in the hotel lounge and identifies two as the villain and villainess.  His explanation of the crime deals with apparent time shifts (changing of clocks, deafness to the noonday gun as the result of a bathing cap), the mysterious discarding of a bottle into the sea (it had contained a skin dye), a midday bath (to wash off the dye) and other miscellaneous clues.  It all fits together very neatly.

However the villains (we know they are truly villains by the sneers on their faces) claim there is "a total absence of evidence" – Poirot is just "a spinner of tales."  The other guests can see justice in this claim.  An explanation, however ingenious, that fits the data does not constitute a proof.  The bottle may have been thrown into the sea by a closet drinker.  The villainess may have taken a midday bath for some innocent reason.  Guests have already have been shown to lie, perhaps there are lies yet to be exposed.  Poirot looks crushed; the two villains prepare to leave the hotel.  The male villain signs a cheque as payment for their stay.  He signs the name he has been using, Redfern.  Poirot draws attention to the similarity of the R in the Redfern signature and the R in the signature of a Felix Ruber, a person who had inherited his wife's life insurance when she was murdered by persons unknown.  Poirot also notes that "felix ruber" is Latin for "red fern".  Poirot has used his knowledge of the prior unsolved murder to provide him with a guide to solving this case.  The Redferns are guilty of both murders, he claims.

The villains are unabashed – it's just another piece of fantasising by the spinner of tales – "a bloody silly word game."  The additional data is not a proof.

Then there is a little bit of theatre and the stolen diamond (linked to the murder) is found in the bowl of the villain's pipe.  This is proof.

The arguments produced by anti-Stratfordians lie open to the same charge as has been advanced by the villains.  A tale, however ingenious, that fits the facts (such as they are) is not a proof, it is just a tale.  (The witness of this claim is the observation that we can have simultaneously several alternative Shakespeares.)  All a claimant can do, to advance his or her case, is to find yet another detail – a Felix Ruber is Latin for Redfern detail – a claim that Shakespeare had never seen a blacksmith at work detail – "our ever-living" is an "almost exact" anagram of the family motto detail – when what they really need to do is to produce the diamond in the bowl of the pipe.

Poirot in the introductory comments of his lounge room chat makes the point, that although it appears that there is no way the murder could have been executed, "we have, undeniably, a body."  It's a corollary of another point the anti-Stratfordians should consider – to establish your contender, you must first dismiss Shakespeare.


Both the Nevillians and the de Vere champion draw considerable data from the the dedication to the Sonnets by using the grid decryption method.  The fundamental approach of grid decryption is to settle on a grid size (by some method) and to lay the apparently innocent example grid with SMART, NO, NOT highlighted text into the grid left to right, top to bottom until is is absorbed.  The hidden message will appear within the arrangement (traditionally) as vertical words.

The adjacent figure shows how the surname of Control's top agent, Maxwell Smart, is encrypted in the message "The sun and moon plan to turn and stop."

A couple of shortcomings of this encryption method warrant comment.

1) It is tedious.  To encrypt the message "the three conspirators use aliases Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego" into an apparently innocent critique of the Chelsea Flower Show would be a demanding exercise.
2) It is prone to ambiguities and misinterpretation generated by "incidentals".  Is the hidden message in the example given here "Smart" or (as occurred by chance) "no, not Smart"?

The dedication of the Sonnets has its own particularities for anyone attempting a decryption using the grid technique.

1) How many columns wide should the grid be?  Presumably within the Elizabethan spy community there would be an understanding between agents to resolve this problem.  However, the dedication to the Sonnets is presented without a guide to the preferred grid layout.
2) How should the dots be handled?  Should each dot be treated as another character to be loaded into the grid?  Or, if they are to be ignored in the decryption process, what was their purpose?
3) Should the "Mr" be treated as one character or two?
4) Is the space following the "Mr" significant?
5) How should the two hyphens be managed?

The Neville advocates and the de Vere advocate differ on their treatment of some of these questions, yet both parties arrive at definitive, but contradictory, conclusions.  Neville is exposed in a 148 character grid, de Vere is exposed in a 144 character grid.  How can this paradox be resolved?  Drystone has the answer – it is presented in the de Vere Epilogue.  (But really you should read some of the other pages first.;-)

Navigate by site map Overall site view with pages selectable by mouse click.
Index to Henry Neville pages Brenda James in her book, Henry Neville and the Shakespeare Code, argues that the works attributed to William Shakespeare are in fact the works of Henry Neville.
Index to Edward de Vere pages Jonathan Bond in his book, The De Vere Code, argues that the collection of sonnets attributed to William Shakespeare are in fact the works of Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.
Desolation Row A list of Shakespeare contenders and their year of introduction.
Last update July 22, 2017     Mal Haysom