“I, E.O. VERE be Robert GREENE”; “Vere is an ‘upstart crow”, the onely Shake-scene in a country”. “Vere, the other Newcommer.”
Robert Greene (1558 – 1592) was a poet, playwright, and pamphleteer mostly famous for a pamphlet published shortly after his death in 1592. Entitled Greene’s Goats-Worth of Witte, bought with a million of Repentance was printed by the writer and printer Henry Chettle (ca. 1564 – 1606), known for writing what has been termed a ‘proto-novel’ called Kind Harts-Dreame, which was also published in 1592.
At the time of publication, Greene’s Groats-Worth caused a a literary furor due to his unabashed attack on other authors, most notably of William Shakespeare of Stratford-Upon-Avon, calling him an “up-start Crow” who had “a Tyger’s hart wrapt in a Players hyde”. The sentence itself, as it occurs in part of the 1592 introduction to Groats-Worth is:
” . . . for there is an vpstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and beeing an absolute Iohannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake–scene in a countrey.”
The phrase “Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde” is a virtual echo of two similar phrases from two plays: The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of Yorke, and the death of good King Henrie the Sixt, a play first published in octavo in 1595, some three years after Greene’s death; a play further considered to be the text that served as the source or template for 3 Henry VI. It is believed 3 Henry 6 was likely performed at least by 1592 as the “Tyger’s hart” phrase, written by Greene in Groats-Worth is somewhat a paraphrase of the 1595 text of 3 Henry 6 when Richard, Duke of Yorke, refers to Margaret:
“Oh Tygers hart wrapt in a womans hide?”
Of course, either Greene knew about the phrase and used it in his pamphlet to verbally attack Shakespeare (the alleged author of 3 Henry 6), or the phrase was modified or plagiarized by Shakespeare after Greene’s death.
However this may be, the life and writing of Robert Greene remain enigmas. To me, Greene is a virtual ghost, a “ghostwriter”, an apparition appearing in history without having been recorded as a real physical person. Research into what others have written about him are couched in what “seems to be”.
♦ Robert Greene died (it is thought) on September 3, 1592. 17 days later, Henry Chettle posthumously publishes Greene’s Groats-Worth of Witte. “17 days later” is written as: 9.17 (9th month, 17th day). ∑ 917 = 17. (Edward de Vere was the 17th Earl of Oxford).
♦ It can only be said that the name “Robert” was probably his first name, but cannot be said with certainty.
♦ Greene’s father is assumed to be one of two Robert Greenes, but which is not certain. Both of the alleged fathers of Robert Greene left wills. Neither of them mentioned having a son named Robert.
♦ Greene is is thought to have attended the free grammar school at Norwich. Unfortunately, enrollment for the school for the time thought to have been when he was a student there have been lost. Therefore, there is no record of his having gone there.
♦ Although a Robert Greene matriculated at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, and since records attesting to how he was able to enroll as a student from anywhere, just which Robert Greene is being referred to.
♦ There is no record of a Robert Greene taking part in dramatic production while a student at Cambridge.
♦ Robert Greene claims to have transferred to another college (Clare College) after he had received his Bachelor of Arts degree. However, there is no record of this transfer to Clare College.
♦ A first person account entitled The Repentance of Robert Greene, Greene claims to have travelled to Italy and Spain. However, no documentary evidence attests to this. In fact, it has been claimed Robert Greene did not write The Repentance, and that it was written by someone else.
♦ Robert Greene claims to have married, yet no documentary evidence has been found to attest to this.
♦ In a 1592 letter to a friend, Gabriel Harvey states Greene died from an excess of herring and wine, and that he was subsequently buried in a churchyard near Bedlam Hospital, London. There is no record of Robert Greene’s burial anywhere.
♦ From birth to death, Robert Greene is a mystery. Even evidence of a grave with his body in it, or a body claimed by others to be his, has been found. No records of a search for his body when he died has been recorded beyond Gabriel Harvey’s word that he indeed did die.
Yet, during his lifetime, by most accounts, he is credited with having published some twenty-five prose works, and several plays–none of which were published in his lifetime. His linguistic abilities were considered remarkable. In his short life, it is claimed he was a well-known public figure. All this as well as the above list testifying to the non-existence of Robert Greene as he has been attested to have been.
Who, then, was Robert Greene? Do encryptions have anything to add to the discussion?
Enter Henry Chettle (ca. 1564 – 1606):
As mentioned above, Henry Chettle published Greene’s Groats-Worth of Witte (1592) 17 days after the death of Robert Greene. Since the original hand of the manuscript was not in what was known to be Greene’s hand, Chettle was accused of plagiarization. Chettles claim was that Greene’s handwriting was ill formed and was copied for the sake of legibility. In the preface of his 1592 publication of Kind Harts-Dreame, Chettle denies the charges as can be seen in the above Bodleian facsimile. However, since Chettle published Groates-Worth, I will begin with two arrays of the title page (frontispiece) of the work itself (Fig. 1 above):
There were no code references to: Christopher Marlowe, Robert Greene, Thomas Nashe, William Shakespeare. Only to Edward de Vere.
Henry Chettle’s Confession of 1592:
What appears to be a frontispiece in Fig. 1 is cryptographic sleight of hand. If Robert Greene (i.e., a physically separate person from Edward de Vere) was the actual author of Groats-Worth, what would have been his motivation to encode “I, E.O. am the hidden hand (as Robert Greene is my pen name)”?
Again, Chettle’s Preface to Kind-Harts Dreame is not what it seems to be. The plaintext appears to be a denial that he is trying to pass off Robert Greene’s work as his own. When he says he is not the author of the pamphlet, he is telling the truth in a literal sense. Chettle is not Robert Greene, and when he says the writing is “. . . all Greenes, not mine” I believe this is the truth. I believe Chettle was fully in-the-know that Robert Greene was one of Edward de Vere’s pen names. Therefore, as a pen name for Edward de Vere, the literal fact of the matter is that the writing IS all Greene’s, as Greene and de Vere are one and the same person; therefore he is not lying, in a literal sense. Today, this kind of parsing would pass before a congressional hearing, and Chettle’s statements could easily be justified as legal truth by any competent lawyer.
And now for the Preface:
Array 99 below is one of the most stunning letter-strings I have ever come across. The cluster, reading from bottom to top, is syntactically perfect, and it’s message is unmistable:
“ I, E.O. Vere, Robert Greene be.“
Fig. 9 The original spelling of the House of Vere Danish surname.
In view of Array 46, it is strongly suggested that (Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southhampton) Henry Ox (ford), the son of E.C.O. Vere, was a collaborator with Oxford in the writing of either or both the Preface to Kind-Harts Dreame and as well as Greenes Groats-Worth of Witte.
Robert Greene, Upstart Crow, Iohannes Factotem, the only Shake-scene in a countrey:
What does Robert Greene have to say about all this?:
Was Henrie Wriothesley, 3rd Earle of Southampton, a collaborator in some of Edward de Vere’s work?: