Film

The Bard or Not the Bard

The first time the general public heard about the theory that the Earl of Oxford wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare was in Leslie Howard’s brilliant 1941 wartime propaganda film Pimpernel Smith. The allusion was part of the “silly ass” dialogue the daring Pimpernel figure, archaeology professor Horatio Smith (Howard), employs to deceive and infuriate his principal antagonist, the Goering-like Von Graum (Francis L. Sullivan). The idea that the Earl of Oxford really wrote Shakespeare comes as a response to Von Graum’s claim that “Shakespeare was a German”. “You must admit the English translations are really quite remarkable,” retorts…

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