By Derek Stanford WHO WAS SHAKESPEARE? By H. Amphlett (Heinemann, 21s.). THERE is a type or attitude of mind which finds it difficult to believe that spiritual and artistic greatness does not depend on material circumstances. Miss Amphlett is of this school; and strongly repudiates the notion that Shakespeare of Stratford—that " butcher's assistant," that " parvenu," as she seems compelled to call him—was the author of England's greatest plays.
Following in the footsteps of T. J. Looney. she re-states the case for Edward de Vers., 17th Earl of Oxford, as the dramatist in mufti. Only a travelled and accomplished nobleman, she believes, could have fathered these works.
With much ingenious industry, Miss Amphleti fits the poet's text to apply to incidents in de Vere's life (a life whose contours are known to us much better than those of the Stratford actor).
But de Vere's poems are also extant; and it is here that Miss Amphlett reveals a certain critical colour-blindness which makes irrelevant her careful reconstruclion. Neat and nimble as are the Earl's verses—those of a genuine minor lyric poet—they hear no parallel to anything we find in Shakespeare's putative works.
And for many, Miss Amphlett's remarks that " dramatically The Tempe.sl is a poor play. couched in a language that is neither prose nor blank verse " without " the true Shakespearian ring " will clinch any arguments of openminded doubt convincingly against her.
Mr. Christmas Humphreys provides a spritely introduction.
Cassell add yet another two volumes to their Hallam editions, the author of both being Stefan Zweig. The first, Stories and Legends (las. 6d.). has one particularly interesting contribution in " The Buried Candelabrum." The second hook is The Tide of Fortune 49s, 6d.).
J. M. Dent have reprinted four volumes in Everyman's Library: Tales of Mystery and Imagination, by Edgar Allan Poe (6s.), The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation. by David Rocardo (6s.), Stories and Episodes, by Thomas Mann (7s.). and Westward Ho! by (harks Kingsley (7s.).