For every reader of the First Folio, from Sir George Greenwood and W.W. Greg to Leah Marcus, the Droeshout Portrait has been an unsolved puzzle, symbolic of the disturbing mystery, who wrote the canon of plays? Emerson considered this “the first of all literary questions.”
Nor have we solved the riddle, “To the Reader”, on the facing page.
Without an understanding of these blatant challenges, the most knowledgeable follower of “Shakespeare” is kept from the author and how he lived, essential to appreciating any work of art.
The key that turns the lock opens the door.
Secrets of the Droeshout Portrait in Shakespeare’s First Folio
by WJ Ray
The Droeshout Portrait, frontispiece of the First Folio, was contrived as a collection of linguistic and visual puns to impart the name and title of the Shakespeare plays’ author, Edward de Vere, 17 th Earl of Oxford.
The ulterior use of such puns—foreign language, typographical, numerical, and visual—are evident throughout the introductory materials. Historically, the title page and facing poem have been taken at face value and the anomalies shrugged off. Consensus belief, commercial promotion, and analytic neglect, perhaps intimidated by tradition, together perpetuated the original deception and gave it credibility by default.
For full essay with detailed illustrations and appendices (pdf format), click here
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