An unstuffy, stylistically refreshing Shakespeare study.


An erudite, persuasive debut study that makes a valuable contribution to the longtime debate over who authored William Shakespeare’s plays.

Goldstein makes it clear from the opening that he is an Oxfordian—not, as he points out, “a graduate of Oxford University” but rather “an independent scholar who holds that Shakespeare was written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford (1550-1604).” The author has significant experience in his field, as he conducted more than 25 years of research; established a peer-reviewed journal, The Elizabethan Review; and co-edited Brief Chronicles, a literary journal with a focus on authorship studies. This book collects essays and reviews that he published in British and American literary journals. At the beginning, he provides a short, precise biography of de Vere and indicates why he and other Oxfordians believe that he’s a good fit as the possible author of the plays attributed to Shakespeare. Goldstein takes time to brief those who may be unfamiliar with this scholarly debate, making it accessible to relative newcomers. That’s not to say that his work is oversimplified, however; on the contrary, Goldstein provides detailed literary exegesis regarding the Shakespeare plays’ allegorical language and the presence and significance of the Essex dialect in them (de Vere was born in Essex). The intricacies of his argument are engaging, right down to the pronunciation of “Shylock” in The Merchant of Venice: “If Shakespeare was born and raised in the county of Essex, he would have pronounced the name as Shillock.” Although Goldstein is aware that many people vehemently defend their own views on the authorship of Shakespeare’s works, his own approach is admirable in that it’s quietly and intelligently assertive. He doesn’t attempt to bludgeon readers with his arguments; rather, he accumulates evidence and then modestly allows readers to decide for themselves. His study would have benefited from a strong concluding statement, but its open-endedness could be interpreted as a call to arms, as he actively requests readers to contact him and contribute to the debate.

An unstuffy, stylistically refreshing Shakespeare study. 

Pub Date: Oct. 18, 2016

ISBN: 978-3-933077-47-9

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Verlag Laugwitz

Review Posted Online: Dec. 14, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2017

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Possibly inspired by the letters Cleary has received as a children's author, this begins with second-grader Leigh Botts' misspelled fan letter to Mr. Henshaw, whose fictitious book itself derives from the old take-off title Forty Ways W. Amuse a Dog. Soon Leigh is in sixth grade and bombarding his still-favorite author with a list of questions to be answered and returned by "next Friday," the day his author report is due. Leigh is disgruntled when Mr. Henshaw's answer comes late, and accompanied by a set of questions for Leigh to answer. He threatens not to, but as "Mom keeps nagging me about your dumb old questions" he finally gets the job done—and through his answers Mr. Henshaw and readers learn that Leigh considers himself "the mediumest boy in school," that his parents have split up, and that he dreams of his truck-driver dad driving him to school "hauling a forty-foot reefer, which would make his outfit add up to eighteen wheels altogether. . . . I guess I wouldn't seem so medium then." Soon Mr. Henshaw recommends keeping a diary (at least partly to get Leigh off his own back) and so the real letters to Mr. Henshaw taper off, with "pretend," unmailed letters (the diary) taking over. . . until Leigh can write "I don't have to pretend to write to Mr. Henshaw anymore. I have learned to say what I think on a piece of paper." Meanwhile Mr. Henshaw offers writing tips, and Leigh, struggling with a story for a school contest, concludes "I think you're right. Maybe I am not ready to write a story." Instead he writes a "true story" about a truck haul with his father in Leigh's real past, and this wins praise from "a real live author" Leigh meets through the school program. Mr. Henshaw has also advised that "a character in a story should solve a problem or change in some way," a standard juvenile-fiction dictum which Cleary herself applies modestly by having Leigh solve his disappearing lunch problem with a burglar-alarmed lunch box—and, more seriously, come to recognize and accept that his father can't be counted on. All of this, in Leigh's simple words, is capably and unobtrusively structured as well as valid and realistic. From the writing tips to the divorced-kid blues, however, it tends to substitute prevailing wisdom for the little jolts of recognition that made the Ramona books so rewarding.

Pub Date: Aug. 22, 1983

ISBN: 143511096X

Page Count: 133

Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Oct. 16, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1983

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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