Rollett in Reverse:
The Sonnets’ Dedication Page Decryption,
The lack of undeniable objective proof seems to be the Achilles’ heel of the enterprise to recognize Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, as author of the Shakespeare canon. The play manuscripts likely incinerated in a mysterious fire that swept through Jonson’s study shortly before the sale of the First Folio. The early narratives and posthumous Sonnets were brought out in secrecy, under an obvious pseudonym, Shake-Speare, traceable to Oxford but not unequivocally established to be him. Political circumstances then and later supported the status quo position of a non-controversial authorship.
As a response to Jacobean political circumstances, Ben Jonson’s introduction to the First Folio advanced what became the commonplace fable that someone else, allonymous to the Shake-Speare moniker, Gulielmus Shakspere of Stratford-upon-Avon, was the recondite author, despite Shakspere’s pecuniary fixation, legal record, and litigious nature showing no evidence whatever of literary talent or production. He was considered a social climber and buffoon by the Elizabethan literary elite, most especially by Jonson himself. The Stratford Monument, sculpturally and cryptologically a ruse, nevertheless continues to sanctify the legend.
When Dr. John M. Rollett published a decryption of the Sonnets Dedication page in 1997 in the Elizabethan Review, his solution simply, elegantly, and unmistakably linking ‘SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS’ to the name of the Earl of Oxford, Edward de Vere—and to Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton, said to be Oxford’s son with Elizabeth I—an opening in the evidentiary question seemed possible. If proven accurate, the cipher is original hard evidence integral to the document itself.
But Rollett questioned his discovery in The Oxfordian, Vol. II, 1999 and has not supported it since. After twelve years, it is time to re-evaluate the credibility of the proof. If the author rejected his solution for insufficient cause, then the proof stands independently of his or anyone’s post mortems. We will review Rollett’s discovery, his rejection of it, subsequent further distancing from the Oxfordian thesis, and then test the decryption.