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The Bard II


George Wyndham was Tory MP for Dover (1889-1913) and former private secretary to Arthur Balfour. In 1898, he edited a book of Shakespeare’s poems. On the question of whom the sonnets were dedicated to, he wrote: “A riddle will always arrest and tease the attention: but on that very account, we cannot pursue the sport of running down the answer . . . much in the manner of trippers to Hampton Court who spend their whole time in the maze.”
John Mackinnon Robertson was Liberal MP for Tyneside (1906-18) and a leading free thinker, questioning religion in works such as Pagan Christs (1903) and The Jesus Problem (1917). A “pro-Stratfordian”, prompted by the revelation that Mark Twain had died a “Baconian”, he wrote The Baconian Heresy (1913), hoping, in his introduction, that the term heresy wouldn’t offend his opponents: “The present writer, being himself open to indictment . . . in more than one field of doctrine, is not likely to employ it as an aspersion.” 

This article first appeared in the 09 April 2012 issue of the New Statesman, Spring Double Issue