The Faerie Qveene (1590): No attribution, 17 ‘Units’
Edmund Spenser’s (1552 – 1599) Work?:
The interesting feature of this particular frontispiece, to me, is the lack of attribution for The Faerie Queene, arguably one of the most famous and well-known poems of the Elizabethan era. One of the rationales for a work’s frontispiece (title page) would appear to have been as a marketing tool, augmented by an announcement of the author of the work. A well-known writer likely had a stronger appeal to a reading public, and would therefore bring in a higher sales volume than would an unknown writer. Pubishing in Elizabethan England, as it is in any of today’s publishing markets, was not done out of the goodness of anyone’s heart; making money, however, was the prime and conspicuous motive for doing so. In general (if not true in all cases), publishers were not literary critics, and were not attempting to represent (patronize) an author for advancement in or entry to a university post, or any other position of considered high status.
So, why the lack of attribution? Although many reasons can be offered, my focus is on the publishing of works that had a secondary rationale: the publishing of material that was meant for a specialized audience as well as a disguise function for the author (s) so that anything considered treasonous might bring death to the author or pubishers of seditious materials. Again, writing anonymously so that those in authority (government agencies and their behavior) could openly deny any seditious or criminal behavior is still with us. This open lying in the absence of immediate proof of doing so is called, in military and government terminology: plausibe denial. The stories brought to us by the major news agencies that dig into this plausible denial by trained liars are the substance of all political scandal. The evening news brings this into our living rooms each evening. And this is done so in ‘either-or’ presentations. Want the Democratic point of view, watch one set of stations; want the Republican point of view, watch another set of stations. Sensitive material is, for the powerful agencies, nothing if not a fencing match.
(II. VIII. MMXIV)
Edward de Vere signed his work with encryptions, as well as with word and number play. The name, William Shakespeare, was not a literary icon at the time the above work of Edmond Spenser was written and published, but the lack of an author-attribution on the 1590 title page (frontispiece, ie., “by Edm. Spenser”) was likely an indicator that the work itself could be inferred from number play used by Oxford to indicate his signature/attribution for a given work of his.
The written language of the frontispiece (excluding the image) is comprised of 8 lines totalling 17 words (1 = 7 = 8): Edward de Vere, the 17th. Earl of Oxford.
What makes what might appear as coincidence, strikes those aware of encryptions reflected in a plaintext as definite word (total words) and number (17 word-count) play. In other words, the arrangement or cluster has the hallmark of deliberate design, and not coincidence.