Sweet Swan of Avon: Did a woman write Shakespeare?
by: Robin P. Williams
Published by: Wilton Circle Press
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Reviewed by Kathy Perschmann, Chanhassen (MN) Librarian
Robin P. Williams is an independent scholar and author. Many of her earlier books have been on computer design and typography (and this is evident in this beautifully designed book). She has studied Shakespeare at St. John's College in Santa Fe and at Oxford University in England; and has taught Shakespeare. She has been a featured speaker at the Authorship Conference at the restored Globe Theatre in London, and will be consulting on their upcoming authorship display. She is an associate member of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust at the invitation of Mark Rylance, the Artistic Director of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London and Chairman of the Trust, which was founded in 1922.
Sweet Swan of Avon sets out to prove that Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke, an influential, literate, well-educated, well-connected, brilliant leader of the literary Wilton Circle, is the author of the plays and sonnets. Mary Sidney was born three years before Shakespeare and died five years after he died.
There is plenty of documentary evidence that Mary Sidney was a writer--indeed she was the first woman to publish a play in English (a closet drama, meant to be performed in a small family setting, not for the public). She was trained in medicine, and had her own alchemy laboratory; she was fluent in French and Italian, and translated works in those languages. She was knowledgeable about hawking and falconry; she was able to play music, both the lute and virginal.
The acting troupe the Earl of Pembroke's men, sponsored by Mary Sidney and her husband, performed three or four of the eight early anonymously published Shakespeare plays.
Coincidences abound in this book--but are they proof? It is very convincing. You must read it for yourself and see what you think.
Armchair Interviews says: The book is well written and enjoyable, a fascinating glimpse into the life of a great woman, whether she wrote the plays or not.
From our armchair to yours...