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  • Writer's pictureAndy Benn


Updated: Nov 7, 2023

‘Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.’ Virginia Woolf

There are over a thousand plus known resemblances, correspondences and parallels between the acknowledged writings of Francis Bacon & the Shakespeare Works. One of the major sources for this is Bacon’s private manuscript notebook (known as the Promus of Formularies and Elegances). The entries in his notebook found in his Shakespeare works include single words, phrases, lines, turns of speech, metaphors, similes, aphorisms, and various moral and philosophical observations. Many of the entries are drawn from the Bible; Latin, French, Italian, Spanish, and English proverbs; and lines and verses from classical poets and dramatists, among them, Virgil, Ovid, Seneca, Horace, and Terence.

‘Bacon’s style varied almost as much as his handwriting; but it was influenced more by the subject-matter than by youth or old age. Few men have shown equal versatility in adapting their language to the slightest shade of circumstance and purpose. His style depended upon whether he was addressing a king, or a great nobleman, or a philosopher, or a friend; whether he was composing a State paper, pleading in a State trial, magnifying the Prerogative, extolling Truth, discussing studies, exhorting a judge, sending a New Year's present, or sounding a trumpet to prepare the way for the Kingdom of Man over Nature. . .In the early [dramatic] devices . . he uses a rich exuberant style and poetic rhythm.’ E. A. Abbott

The narrative poem Venus and Adonis published in 1593 marks the first appearance of the pseudonym William Shakespeare printed below its dedication.

As all Shakespeare scholars and the rest of the Shakespeare world knows, the first narrative Shakespeare poem Venus and Adonis is dedicated to Henry Wriothesley, third Earl of Southampton. What is not well-known is that prior to its intimate dedication Southampton resided with Francis Bacon at Gray’s Inn, where the earl was admitted on 6 June 1588. He was reputed to be the most beautiful young man in the kingdom and made no secret of his bisexuality. During the earl’s period of residence at Gray’s Inn he and Bacon formed a warm friendship that over time later developed into a love affair in the period up leading to the intimate dedication prefixed to Venus and Adonis.

The first Shakespeare poem Venus and Adonis has long been associated with Queen Elizabeth. In this very sexually explicit poem Venus is identified with Elizabeth wherein Venus is referred to as a Queen, presented in a blazon of red and white, the colours of Elizabeth Tudor, the colours of the union rose, combining the red rose of Lancaster and white rose of York, the heraldic emblem of England. Encoded within it is a refracted revelation exposing the illusion of the so-called Virgin Queen who used her sexuality and virginity as a political ploy on the national and international stage. She like all great Shakespearean characters was playing a part. As our poet so famously said, ‘All the World’s a stage/And all the men and woman merely players’. Her very life and throne to some extent depended upon the myth and lie of her pretended virginity which was known to the more well-informed Elizabethan poets and writers of the era.

She is vividly painted in Venus and Adonis as extraordinarily lustful and a very sexually aggressive woman. Dr Anne Whitelock a recognised authority on Queen Elizabeth and the Elizabethan period writes:

'From around the 1590s until the end of Elizabeth’s reign, satirists would often refer to the vulva in terms of a metaphorical space, describing it in sensual detail as smooth, soft, and moist and a place of delicious, intoxicating tastes. Such sexually explicit descriptions of the Queen’s genitalia in some late Elizabethan verse suggest a rejection of the Queen’ self-styled cult of virginity.'

In the poem Professor Bate points out (as others have before him) ‘Venus the lover is also Venus the mother’, an apt description of the ambiguous relationship that existed between Queen Elizabeth and her concealed son Robert Tudor Devereux, the second Earl of Essex. There are many down the centuries who have believed that the ageing Elizabeth portrayed as Venus in contemporary paintings and poems and the young and beautiful Essex portrayed as a handsome Adonis were lovers and an incestuous desire is most certainly an undercurrent theme of Venus and Adonis. She was also his royal mother, and their tempestuous relationship was one of legend in which it is well-documented, that she readily fawned on him like a mother and a lover.

In the poem Venus hunts Adonis and he in turn follows the symbolic and heraldic wild boar that allegorically kills him symbolically raising Adonis from darkness into light. Its narrator says that Adonis ‘ran upon the boar with his sharp spear’ and ‘nuzzling in his flank, the loving swine’ an allusion to Bacon. ‘Sheathed unaware the tusk of his soft groin’ (lines 1111-16), in an act of symbolic union fusing the secret royal brothers Bacon and Essex, both of whom were inextricably bound up in their intertwined Tudor destiny, as concealed heirs to the royal throne of England.

The heraldic boar portrayed in the Tudor colours of red and white his ‘frothy mouth be painted all with red,/Like milk and blood being mingled both together’ (lines 901-02), confirms he is a Tudor child, the eldest secret royal son of Venus, Queen Elizabeth.

At the end of the poem Venus (Queen Elizabeth) presides over the virgin birth of the purple flower from Adonis’s blood (lines 1165-70) and with the flower child between her breast she is conveyed in her chariot to the island of Pathos, far from prying eyes where she ‘means to immure herself and not be seen’ (line 1194), just as Elizabeth had hidden herself away when pregnant to conceal that she has given birth to a royal child, the secret author of Venus and Adonis, Francis Tudor Bacon.

As with Venus and Adonis, Bacon dedicates The Rape of Lucrece to his lover the Earl of Southampton celebrating their deep intimacy with his love for him breathing through every line. Their close relationship continued through the 1590s during which period the lives of Bacon and Southampton became even more intertwined with that of Robert Tudor Devereux, who all lived and worked together along with Antony Bacon at Essex House, the headquarters of the English Secret Service, whose domestic and foreign operations the modern equivalent of MI5 and MI6, were directed by the Bacons.

The shadow of Queen Elizabeth also lies behind the figure of Lucrece in a tale of sex and lust that is bound up in the state politics of Rome and England and how for different reasons virginity and sex were key elements in both our myths of nationhood.

Modern scholars have finally begun to partly recognise the republican themes running through the Bacon Shakespeare canons that completely revolutionises and transforms our understanding of the first philosopher-poet of the modern world. ‘He can be seen as the beginner of a new, indigenous vein of classical republicanism’. His daring representations of republican thoughts and ideas were obliquely and openly expressed through his acknowledged writings and in many of his Shakespeare poems and plays.

Professor Peltonen points out that in his acknowledged writings Bacon endorsed some of the key themes of republicanism and ‘was sometimes ready to acclaim republican governments.’ In his brilliant and groundbreaking full-length work Shakespeare and Republicanism Professor Hadfield also recognised that the Shakespeare poems and plays were the most important contribution to classical republicanism expressed in poetical and dramatic literature of a newly breaking modern world, exemplified in The Rape of Lucrece.

The poem represents the founding of the Roman republic. The Argument or summary of the action prefixed toThe Rape of Lucrece recounts how during the reign of King Tarquinius Superbus, who had seized the throne through the murder of his father-in-law Servius Tullius, a group of Roman noblemen were engaged in the siege of Ardea, among them the king’s son Sextus Tarquinius, the poem’s Tarquinwho raped Lucrece, an act that resulted in the establishment of the Roman Republic.

In his masterly and groundbreaking edition of Bacon’s History of Henry VII Professor Weinberger reveals its importance to the rise of modern republicanism and the politics of progress that ingeniously presents a picture of a modern democratic state that now characterises the western hemisphere and much of the rest of the world.

The most profound and poignant life diary of emotion exploring and revealing Bacon’s intimate relationships with his royal mother Queen Elizabeth, Princess Marguerite and the Earl of Southampton.

‘The reader will follow with eager interest the experiences which rent and harrowed Shakespeare’s soul. He will rejoice in the insight afforded by these poems, which the crowd ignores, into the tempestuous emotional life of one of the greatest of men. Here, and here alone, we see Shakespeare himself, as distinct from his poetical creations, loving, admiring, longing, yearning, adoring, disappointed, humiliated, tortured. Here alone does he enter the confessional. Here more than anywhere else can we. . . do homage to the poet’s art, feel ourselves in intimate communion, not only with the poet, but with the man.’ Georg Brandes

In the 1590s Bacon wrote the dramatic device on behalf of his younger royal brother Essex for him to present before the before their mother Queen Elizabeth as part of the festivities celebrating her Accession Day entitled Of Love and Self-Love.

In the Hermit’s Speech in the Presence, in wish of Contemplation or Studies our philosopher-poet Bacon tells how the monuments of wit will outlive the monuments of power. He knew that the divine verses of a poet endure the ruins of time as would his own immortal Shakespeare poems and plays:

'But the gardens of the Muses keep the privilege of the golden age; they ever flourish and are in league with time. The monuments of wit survive the monuments of power: the verses of a poet endure without a syllable lost, while states and empires pass many periods.'

This same dichotomy of the power of wit and the power of monuments is transmuted and expanded upon in his immortal Sonnet No. 55:

Not marble nor the gilded monuments

Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme,

But you shall shine more bright in these contents

Than unswept stone besmeared with sluttish time.

When wasteful war shall statues overturn,

And broils root out the work of masonry,

Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn

The living record of your memory.

’Gainst death and all oblivious enmity

Shall you pace forth; your praise shall find room

Even in the eyes of all posterity

That wear this world out to the ending doom.

So, till the judgement that yourself arise,

You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

The earliest printed Shakespeare play in which Bacon explores the law of bastardy, in particular royal bastardy, through the most important and largest role in the play, the royal bastard Sir Philip Faulconbridge. The important character Sir Philip Faulconbridge (the rightful heir to the crown) has more lines than any other character and is frequently described as the hero of King John without whom it is said, the play would not exist. He is penetrating and profound. He sees further and deeper and knows and understands more than the self-serving mortals around and about him. He is present but effortlessly rises above the noise of deceivers and the deluded, at times both visible and invisible, we think we know him, but he always manages to remain elusive. Our author of King John had an unusual and very particular attachment to the name of Faulconbridge on many different levels. The man and name behind the character of the Bastard Sir Philip Faulconbridge has quite simply stared centuries of Shakespearean and Baconian scholarship in the face whose identity is concealed within the first eight letters of the surname Faulconbridge concealing an anagram of F BACON.

The differences between The Taming of a Shrew first printed in 1594 and The Taming of the Shrew that appeared in the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio itself collapses the Stratfordian fraudulent fiction that the illiterate/semi-illiterate William Shakspere (d. 1616) was the author of the Shakespeare works. The two versions of the play share a similar central plot and both have a subplot of romantic intrigue though in A Shew Kate has two sisters and in The Shrew just one. Only Christopher Sly and Kate are used for the names of characters in A Shrew and The Shrew, otherwise all the other characters are given different names, including the central male protagonist who is named Ferando in A Shrew and Petruccio in The Shrew.

Sometime before its publication in the 1623 First Folio Bacon subjected the play to a comprehensive revision most likely shortly before it was printed by the Jaggards, the same family who printed and published several editions of Bacon’s Essays before and after the First Folio.

The Taming of the Shrew printed in the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio contains many references to the Bacon family circle. The central character Petruccio is based upon Petruccio Ubaldini the Bacon family calligrapher and scribe. Katherine is partly modelled upon Katherine Cooke Killigrew, Bacon’s maternal aunt and Katherine’s sister is Bianca from which can be derived the anagrammatic contraction AN BAC that clearly suggests the name of Francis Bacon’s mother Anne Bacon, sister of Katherine Killigrew. Petruccio’s father Antonio, is the Italian form of Anthony, the name of Bacon’s beloved brother Anthony Bacon, and two of Petruccio’s servants are named Nicholas and Nathaniel, named after his two elder stepbrothers, Sir Nicholas and Sir Nathaniel Bacon.

Surely, it is self-evident that only its true author Bacon who was then alive in 1623 (Shakspere died in 1616; Marlowe in 1593; and Oxford in 1604) was responsible for this radically altered version of the play revised and amended for the publication of the Shakespeare First Folio when virtually all the persons alluded to were dead with the single exception of the ill and dying Sir Nicholas Bacon who died shortly after in 1624.

The play is a humorous practical family joke by a philosopher-poet who as Ben Jonson tells us could never pass by a jest. Thus, hidden in plain sight the controversial comedy The Taming of the Shrew was a Bacon family affair, a humorous send-up, written by the supreme family poet, Francis Bacon.

In the early play The Two Gentlemen of Verona Bacon again names one of his characters Antonio, named after his brother Anthony Bacon, the father of Proteus, one of the two gentlemen of Verona. One of the fables in Bacon’s The Wisdom of the Ancients is ‘Proteus; Or Matter’. In Greek mythology Proteus was able to change his shape at will and adopt different forms and disguises just as Bacon would disguise himself behind his literary mask Shakespeare. In the fable Bacon tells us that Proteus was a thrice excellent prophet for he knew the past, present and the future, who was the keeper and messenger of secrets.

The play is a discourse on male friendship with homoerotic undertones within a homosocial structure that formed an important part of the hidden world of Francis and Anthony Bacon who was charged with homosexuality in France which carried the death penalty, only for him to be saved by the intervention of his close friend and confidant King Henry of Navarre. In his essay Of Friendship Bacon observes ‘a friend was far more then himself’, and no one was more of a friend to him, than his brother Anthony Bacon.

As with The Taming of the Shrew one of the characters in the supreme love story Romeo and Juliet is named Petruccio after Petruccio Ubaldini, the Bacon family calligraphist and illuminator.

The three years Bacon spent in France are to the present day still shrouded in secrecy largely on account of his royal birth and his concealed authorship of the Shakespeare poems and plays-several of which are partly based in or relate to the French kingdom: Love’s Labour’s Lost, King John, I Henry VI, 3 Henry VI, Henry V, All’s Well That Ends Well and As You Like It. Later in life Bacon accounted his years in France to have been the most formative of his personal and intellectual development in a kingdom with which he fell in love, as well as falling in love with its princess, Marguerite de Valois, his Juliet, in Romeo and Juliet, inspiring the most famous play about love in the history of the world. The complex and heartbreaking love affair between Bacon and Marguerite colours the very fabric of Romeo and Juliet later echoed in Troilus and Cressida and is the subject of several of his Shakespeare sonnets.

At Gray’s Inn during the late 1580s and early 1590s Bacon began writing the War of the Roses plays I Henry VI, 2 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI and Richard III, otherwise known as the first Shakespeare tetralogy. In the Temple Garden scene of I Henry VI he reveals his intimate familiarity with the habits and life of the Inns of Court.

In this invented scene Bacon portrays the War of Roses between the Houses of Lancaster and York as having its nascent beginnings in a dispute between some young noblemen studying law, arguing over an obscure legal point, in a passage containing technical legal language, set in the Temple Gardens. In addition to the scene with its ready familiarity with the life and habits of the Inns of Court, references and allusions to the law run throughout the whole of the play from the first Act till the last.

In the play his uncle and patron William Cecil, Lord Burghley is identified with Lord Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester and his wife Mildred Cooke Cecil (sister of Bacon’s mother Lady Anne Cooke Bacon) with Dame Eleanor of Gloucester. The Bacon family Gorhambury estate is located on the edge of the town of St Albans and within walking distance of the estate stands the St Albans Cathedral the final resting place of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester the dominant figure in the first three acts of 2 Henry VI. He was buried on the south side of the Shrine of St Alban inscribed with an epitaph referring to the miracle of a blind impostor. The miracle referred to in the Latin inscription attached to the tomb of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester is made much of by Bacon in 2 Henry VI, a local St Alban’s legend, to which Bacon devotes over a hundred lines to in Act 2 Scene I (lines 62-165).

The second part of Henry VI culminates with the First Battle of St Albans where Richard kills the Duke of Somerset and York kills Lord Clifford. King Henry and Queen Margaret are defeated and flee to London where the victorious Yorkists pursue them.

The third part of Henry VI continues where the second part finishes. In the first scene the Duke of York, his two sons Edward (afterwards Edward IV) and Richard (afterwards Richard III) and their followers discuss the First Battle of St Albans and in the second Act Warwick describes the Second Battle of St Albans that took place a short distance from the Bacon family estate at Gorhambury.

The play Richard III concludes the first Shakespeare tetralogy (with I Henry VI, 2 Henry VI and 3 Henry VI) covering the War of the Roses.

The Cecil and Bacon family headed by Secretary of State Sir William Cecil and Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon the central twin pillars of the Elizabethan state were privately, socially and politically virtually indivisible. Sir William and Sir Nicholas were married to two of the celebrated Cooke sisters Lady Mildred Cooke Cecil and Lady Anne Cooke Bacon. The Cecils and Bacons built their country estates Theobalds and Gorhambury within twenty miles of each other in the county of Hertfordshire, where the two families together with their two children Robert Cecil (b. 1563) and Francis Bacon (b. 1561), regularly visited each other. From a very young age there was a fierce rivalry between the two young cousins which continued throughout their lifetimes characterised by Bacon’s intense dislike of the sly and spiteful Cecil. Cecil was born with a curvature of the spine, and his cunning and deceitful nature is vividly painted in the titular character of Bacon’s Richard III and in his essay Of Deformity.

During the period Bacon was writing his first Shakespeare tetralogy (I Henry VI, 2 Henry VI, 3 Henry VI and Richard III) he also wrote his Roman history play Titus Andronicus.

It has been said by many orthodox scholars that Titus Andronicus is the first of the Shakespeare plays. Whether it is the first or not, it is certainly one of the earliest.

The play is best understood in relation to Bacon’s essay Of Revenge. The theme of revenge structures the whole of Titus Andronicus at every level and it is the motif that permeates its symbolism, imagery and language in a context of law and justice; where one ends and the other begins, and where there is no law or lawful justice, a wild kind of justice reigns throughout the play.

At the famous Christmas Revels at Gray’s Inn 1594-5, Bacon organised a mock meeting of the Privy Council presided over by the Prince of Purpoole, Lord of Misrule, a cipher for Bacon himself-a Tudor Prince who was later married dressed head to toe in purple-the colour of royalty. It was during these revels the first known performance of his Shakespeare play The Comedy of Errors was performed, a play about errors, confusion and mistaken identity themes prominent in his later acknowledged works.

In fact, Bacon’s whole philosophical system and scientific empirical methodological inquiry to which he devoted his entire lifetime and a subject he wrote several large treatises upon, departed from the premise that humankind had for thousands of years wandered through error upon error in what might very well be described as a veritable comedy of errors. It was on this very foundation that Bacon built his first major philosophical treatise which he aptly titled The Advancement of Learning wherein he began page after page with the word error in describing the phenomenon of historical and human error:

'Another error, induced by the former, is a distrust that any thing should be now to be found out, which the world should have missed and passed over so long time. . .'

Later in Book II of Advancement of Learning he directly alludes to Terence and Plautus the Roman playwright whose Latin play Menaechmi served as a source for some elements in The Comedy of Errors:

'(as it is used in some comedies of errors, wherein the mistress and the maid change habits), to be but as a servant, without which pleasure cannot be served and attended.'

The early comedy Love’s Labour’s Lost is set in Navarre a kingdom between France and Spain at a time when Bacon was in France and when some of the historical events referred or alluded to in the play were happening and the kingdom where his brother Anthony Bacon, an intimate friend and correspondent of King Henry of Navarre, spent several years of his life. It was likely out of respect for a living king that Francis Bacon named the monarch in the play Ferdinand, King of Navarre and why the Princess of France (partly modelled upon Princess Marguerite de Valois, Queen of Navarre and Queen of France with whom Bacon had a secret love affair) is not given a name in the play.

The lords attending the King of Navarre in the play Berowne, Longueville and Dumaine are named after historical persons-Duc de Biron and Duc de Longueville military leaders and loyal servants of Henry of Navarre, and Geraud de Lomagne, a Huguenot commander. Boyet the lord attending the Princess of France in the play is styled after another of Navarre’s lords, named Boyresse.

The passports of Anthony Bacon and his entourage providing them with official permission to travel through Navarre and parts of France are signed by Biron, Lomagne and Boyresse. The character Don Adriano de Armado in Love’s Labour’s Lost is based upon the notorious Antonio Perez, Spanish statesman and secretary of King Phillip II who left Spain in November 1591. He twice travelled to England as an envoy to King Henry IV of France and Navarre where he formed a close friendship with Francis and Anthony Bacon, remaining in England until July 1595. One of the Ladies-in-Waiting attending the Princess of France is named Katherine, Christian name of Lady Anne Cooke Bacon’s younger sister Katherine Cooke Killigrew. Two of the other characters in Love's Labour's Lost Anthony Dull and Sir Nathaniel are named by Bacon after his two brothers Anthony and Sir Nathaniel Bacon.

In the play Sir Nathaniel, Anthony Dull and Holofernes engage in a convoluted exchange on learning. Armado in an aside to Holofernes asks, 'are you not lettered?’ to which Mote interjects ‘Yes, yes, he teaches boys the horn-book. What is ‘a, b’ spelled backward, with the horn on his head?’ The Latin for ‘horn’ is ‘cornu’, thus A B spelled backwards with a horn on its head is BACORNU phonetically indicating BACON-YOU BACON.

The secret triangular relationship between Francis Tudor Bacon, his younger royal brother Robert Tudor Devereux, second Earl of Essex, and their mother Queen Elizabeth lies behind the dramatic entertainment Of Love and Self-Love written by Bacon on behalf of Essex and presented before the Queen as part of the festivities celebrating her Accession Day on 17 November 1595. The dramatic device shares themes, subjects and language with A Midsummer Night’s Dream written during the same year with the one effectively forming a companion piece to the other.

The structure of A Midsummer Night’s Dream is constructed around the relationship between the King and Queen of the Fairies, Oberon (the Earl of Leicester) and Titania (Queen Elizabeth) and the Indian Boy (Changeling Boy) over whom the two of them quarrel. The parentage and true paternity of the unseen Indian Boy is secret, ambiguous, and uncertain, whose symbolic presence is central to the whole play. In the allegorical drama Bacon reflecting his own secret royal and adoptive parentage provides conflicting explanations of the Indian Prince and his origin. The ghost character of the Indian Boy represents its ghost author Bacon, and here the changeling child is one taken from its mother and raised by someone else, as was the case with Bacon born to Queen Elizabeth (Titania) and Oberon (Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester) and raised by Sir Nicholas and Lady Anne Bacon.

The English history play Richard II opens with a trial scene in which the king acts as judge and jury in a matter of grave import wherein two of his leading noblemen accuse each other of treason, and each of them challenges one another to a duel. The scourge of trial by combat or duelling had been a source of grievance both morally and legally for Bacon from his early years studying law at Gray’s Inn and one of his first tasks on appointment as Attorney-General was to try and put a stop to it, which he condemned in The Charge of Sir Francis Bacon Knight, his Maiesty’s Attourney generall, touching Duells. The most controversial part of the play containing the deposition scene shows the final stages of power being transferred from Richard to Bolingbroke in which he yields up his crown a sacrifice made by Bacon the true heir to the throne in giving up his crown in favour of King James of Scotland.

The Henry IV plays are some of the most Baconian in the whole of the Shakespeare canon and are replete with references and allusions not only to their author Francis Bacon but to several members of the Bacon family and St Albans close to Gorhambury, the Bacon family estate.

Our supreme philosopher-poet and dramatist hilariously sends himself up in the character Francis, the drawer who serves drinks at the Boar’s Head and he also uses his own Christian name for the effeminate character Francis Feeble, one of the men enlisted to fight for King Henry IV.

Bacon alludes to his father Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon in the form of Saint Nicholas in reference to a case presided over by the great Elizabethan Lord Keeper. In Act 2 Scene 1 two Carriers engage in some lively banter in a scene which contains allusions to his father Sir Nicholas Bacon. The First Carrier points the way by cueing the allusions to come with ‘be hanged, and come away’ (2:1:22) the first of half-a-dozen uses of ‘hang’ and ‘hangman’ as the scene unfolds. Gadshill says ‘Sirrah, if they meet not with Saint Nicholas’s clerks, I’ll give thee his neck’ (2:1:61-2). The Chamberlain replies ‘No, I’ll none of it: I pray thee keep that for the hangman, for I know thou worshippest Saint Nicholas as truly as a man of falsehood may’ (2:1:63-5). The passage alludes to a story later recalled by Bacon in his Apophthegms relating to a case presided over by Lord Keeper Nicholas Bacon which is also alluded to in The Merry Wives of Windsor.

Much of the action in the play takes place at the Boar’s Head Inn-a boar is a wild pig from which is derived bacon-a convenient device for suggesting the Bacon’s Head Inn. A figure of a boar appears on Bacon’s family crest.

The inspiration for the character of Mistress Quickly hostess of the Boar’s Head Inn came in the shape of Bacon’s aunt Lady Elizabeth Hoby Cooke Russell (younger sister of Bacon’s mother Lady Anne Cooke Bacon). One of Falstaff’s motley crew was named after her husband John, Lord Russell (namely Sir John Russell), the son and heir of Francis Russell, second Earl of Bedford, Bacon’s godfather and political patron.

The little-known brother of Lady Anne Cooke Bacon and Lady Elizabeth Cooke Hoby Russell, William Cooke, had a son known as William Cooke of Highnam Court in Gloucestershire, whose name served for the cook William Cook at the Gloucester home of Robert Shallow, Justice of the Peace.

In I Henry IV there is repeated play or punning on the name BACON ‘I have a gammon of bacon and two races of ginger to be delivered as far as Charing Cross’/‘Ah, whoreson caterpillars, bacon-fed knaves! They hate us youth’/ ‘Hang ye, gorbellied knaves, are ye undone? No, ye fat chuffs; I would your store were here. On, bacons, on! What, ye knaves! Young men must live. You are grand-jurors, are ye? We’ll jure ye, faith.’

There are also several needless references to St Albans the near location of the Bacon family seat at Gorhambury. In I Henry IV Falstaff and Sir John Russell with their company march through the Midlands towards Shrewsbury. The scene is taken up with a long speech by Falstaff complaining that his bedraggled company have but a shirt and half between them containing a reference to St Albans ‘and the shirt, to say the truth, stolen from my host at Saint Albans, or the red-nose innkeeper of Daventry. But that’s all one; they’ll find linen enough on every hedge.’ What appears to be another seemingly superfluous reference to St Albans is found in 2 Henry IV ‘I warrant you, as common as the way between Saint Albans and London.’

Following the robbery scene Hal and Poins return to the Boar’s Head Inn (Bacon’s Head Inn). Hal is fraternising with the bar staff and he and Poins perplex the drawer Francis before the other robbers arrive. In his speech Prince Hal sets the scene ‘Sirrah, I am sworn brother to a leash of drawers, and can call them all by their christen names, as ‘Tom’, ‘Dick’, and ‘Francis’. It was Ben Jonson who famously said that Bacon could never pass by a jest and he humorously sends himself up in 1 Henry IV in which there are 33 instances of his name Francis in the specially formatted 1st column on page 56 in the Shakespeare First Folio: 33 being simple cipher for Bacon.

Following his return to England after a twelve-year absence in February 1592 working in the service of the spymaster Sir Francis Walsingham for the English Secret Service, Anthony Bacon went to live with his brother Francis Bacon, at Gray’s Inn who was then already heavily in debt. From the moment Anthony Bacon returned to England he immediately became involved in supporting and assisting his brother Francis with his money troubles and considerable financial liabilities.

The Bacon brothers were still dealing with various loans and mounting debts when in Trinity Term 1597 a goldsmith known as Sympson of Lombard Street who held a bond for £300 principal sued Francis for repayment but agreed to respite the satisfaction of it until the beginning of the following term. However, without any warning a fortnight before Michaelmas Term commenced while Bacon was walking from the Tower at the instigation of the moneylender Sympson he was arrested with the intent of confining him to the Fleet prison. The events were to inform and colour the most famous legal play in the history of English drama The Merchant of Venice whose titular character is named Antonio, the Italian form of Anthony named after and modelled upon his brother Anthony Bacon with the Venetian Lord Bassanio, a dramatic disguise for its author Francis Bacon.

The two characters Antonio and Bassanio mirror the complex relationship and circumstances of Anthony and Francis Bacon before and during the time the play was written, revised, and performed. The play is also representative of the deep love and bond they share: ‘To you, Antonio, I owe the most in money and in love, And from your love I have a warranty To unburden all my plots and purposes How to get clear of all the debts I owe.’

The names chosen for specific characters in Much Ado About Nothing are again very revealing and instructive. One of the significant characters in the play is named Friar Francis, the Christian name, of course, of Francis Bacon, who presided over Hero’s abortive wedding and the name of another character called Francis Seacoal, a Sexton; his surname being the same as a lane called Seacoal Lane located within walking distance of Bacon’s lodgings at Gray’s Inn, a lane which still survives today. And as with The Merchant of Venice wherein Antonio is the titular character there is also a character in Much Ado About Nothing named Antonio, after his brother Anthony Bacon.

In a play about the deception and illusions practised upon humankind who are all too readily deceived and seduced by appearances, Friar Francis is a wise man as well as a disguised Baconian-philosopher-scientist, an exponent of the New Baconian Philosophy of Experimental Science. The whole play is deliberately framed in such a way as to allow Bacon to create an in-built allegory and illusion to explore the complicated differences between false and valid knowledge an important theme running through his major works The Advancement of Learning, The Wisdom of the Ancients, Novum Organum, and De Augmentis Scientiarum.

Throughout the 1590s Francis Tudor Bacon acted as special adviser to his secret royal brother Robert Tudor Devereux, second Earl of Essex which included a series of letters giving him advice on the political and military landscape of Ireland and his proposed commission to put down the Tyrone rebellion. In the Chorus of Henry V (5:0:22-35) Bacon refers to the ‘General’ Robert Tudor Devereux of our ‘gracious Empress’ Queen Elizabeth.

In March 1599 Essex was appointed Governor-General of Ireland and two days later he departed from London to the cheers of the multitude. While in Ireland he ignored the orders of his mother the Queen and against her wishes made a truce with Tyrone. The Chorus refers to his homecoming ‘As in good time he may, from Ireland coming’ which occurred on 29 September 1599 the year the play was written. On his return an enraged Elizabeth placed him under house arrest and in June 1600 he was tried by a special court and stripped of his offices of state and deprived of his lucrative monopoly on sweet wines a principal source of revenue which ultimately led to the Essex uprising in February 1601.

The pastoral drama As You Like It belongs in the tradition of entertainments put on for Queen Elizabeth stretching back to the magnificent entertainment provided for her by Leicester at Kenilworth, at Bisham produced and written by Bacon, and the dramatic devices written by Bacon for the Earl of Essex to be presented on her Anniversary Day in 1592 and 1595. The device Of Love and Self-Love written by Bacon in 1595 includes two speeches delivered by a Hermit: The Hermits first Speech and The Hermits Second Speech in the Presence, in wish of Contemplation or Studies who in the device is dressed as a philosopher representing Contemplation. The figure of the Hermit is repeatedly referred to in several Shakespeare plays dating from around the period: I Henry VI, Titus Andronicus, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Richard II, The Merchant of Venice, and As You Like It.

The court of Queen Elizabeth permeates the background of the play. The role of Rosalind, daughter of Duke Senior shares similarities with Queen Elizabeth and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester informs the figures of Duke Senior and Sir Rowland de Boys, with their royal son Robert Tudor Devereux, reflected in the usurping brother Duke Frederick (Essex attempted to usurp Bacon’s claim on the throne) and the character of Orlando, youngest son of Sir Rowland de Boys, a dramatic refraction of his blood father Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester.

During 1599 Bacon turned to one of the figures in classical history the Roman leader Julius Caesar who had clearly fascinated him and had already featured in a diverse range of his works: the religio-political tract An Advertisement Touching the Controversies of the Church of England (1589), the dramatic device Of Tribute or giving that which is due (c. 1591-2), Certain Observations Upon a Libel (c. 1592-3), The Orations for the Gray’s Inn Revels (1594-5) and his private note-book the Promus of Formularies and Elegances (1594-5). He also referred to Julius Caesar in several of his essays and penned a ‘Character of Julius Caesar’ likely about the same time as his Shakespeare play of the same name. He was also of course familiar with the standard works on Roman history and Julius Caesar and the critical literature relating to the subject and the man. Both the Greek and Roman historians Plutarch and Suetonius state that Julius Caesar was stabbed 23 times, however in his Shakespeare Roman history play this is deliberately altered to 33 times: 33 Bacon in simple cipher.

In one of his Apophthegms (witty sayings) Bacon recalled a story about his father Lord Keeper Sir Nicholas Bacon presiding over a court case wherein he says 'you be hanged, for Hog is not Bacon until it be well hanged' not published until 1650, which he alludes to in The Merry Wives of Windsor in the line 'Hang-hog' is Latin for Bacon, I warrant you', a play first printed decades earlier:

'Sir Nicholas Bacon, being appointed a Judge for the Northern Circuit, and having brought his Trials that came before him to such a passe, as the passing of sentence on Malefactors, he was by one of the malefactors mightily importuned for to save his life, which when nothing that he had said did avail, he at length desired his mercy on the account of kindred: Prethee said my Lord Judge, how came that in? Why, if it please you my Lord, your name is Bacon, and mine is Hog, and in all ages Hog and Bacon have been so near kindred that they are not to be separated. Ibut replied Judge Bacon, you and I cannot be kindred, except you be hanged; for Hog is not Bacon until it be well hanged.'

In The Merry Wives of Windsor Bacon puts the telling line in the mouth of Mistress Quickly a character modelled upon Lady Anne Cooke Bacon’s younger sister Lady Elizabeth Cooke Hoby Russell:

‘Hang-hog’ is Latin for bacon, I warrant you. (4: 1: 43)

The central character in the play Malvolio is a caricature of Bacon’s cousin Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby the son of Lady Elizabeth Cooke Hoby, younger sister of Lady Anne Cooke Bacon. Its sub-plot alludes to a Yorkshire quarrel being played out in a London court as Bacon was writing the play involving the Hoby family and their legal quarrel with their Catholic neighbours.

On a deeper level Twelfth Night explores love, sexuality and gender identity, both its fluidity and performative aspects and also the potential confusion and errors that can arise from disguise. Secrecy and concealment were a large part of Bacon’s life and his Shakespeare works were an outlet for his ability to see great humour in all aspects of human behaviour. The exploration comes from an understanding of the many facets of human love and desire as he loved both men and women.

Its important character Countess Roussillon is based upon the real-life person of the Countess Lady Elizabeth Cooke Hoby Russell (Bacon's aunt) and refracts the relationship with her son Sir Thomas Posthumous Hoby (Bacon's cousin). The textual evidence alongside the known biographical details of the Dowager Countess Lady Elizabeth Russell compellingly demonstrates she and the Dowager Countess of Roussillon are one and the same.

The play alludes to the philosopher’s stone, the legendary alchemical substance, also known as the elixir of life, for prolonging of life, or the achieving of immortality long associated with Bacon’s secret Rosicrucian Brotherhood. Regarding immortality, he also wrote a treatise entitled The History of Life and Death first published in Latin the same year as the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio where All’s Well That Ends Well was first printed. The scene in All’s Well That Ends Well involving the illness and cure derived from two of Bacon’s unpublished Latin writings entitled Temporis Partus Masculus (c.1603) and Cogitata et Visa (c.1607), neither of which were translated or published until long after his recorded death.

The vacillating Princess Marguerite de Valois, with whom Bacon had a clandestine love affair while in France, the inspiration for Romeo and Juliet the greatest love story ever told, colours its titular character Cressida.

The opening passage in his essay Of Sedition and Troubles is greatly expanded upon by Ulysses in his speech on degrees (1:3:78-124) and the observation by Bacon in Advancement of Learning (1605) ‘Is not the opinion of Aristotle worthy to be regarded wherein he saith, that young men are no fit auditors of moral philosophy’ is repeated in Troilus and Cressida (first printed, 1609) ‘Unlike young men, whom Aristotle thought/Unfit to hear moral philosophy (2:2:166-67).

The play first written in late 1601 or early 1602 captures the essence of the final years of the reign of Elizabeth and the career and downfall of her concealed royal son Robert Tudor Devereux, second Earl of Essex. The final twist in their tempestuous relationship driven by his desire for her to recognise his right to the throne (now more or less relinquished by Bacon) culminated in the ill-fated Essex uprising in February 1601. He and his leading confederate Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton to whom Bacon dedicated Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece were tried for treason and sentenced to death. In his last days while fearing for his life in the Beauchamp Tower (part of the Tower of London) where he was imprisoned before his execution in the face of imminent death Essex carved into the stone wall his true name over the doorway ‘ROBART TIDIR’ an old way of spelling ROBERT TUDOR, which can still be seen to the present day, conveying his status as a concealed royal prince of England. Behind the scenes Bacon tried to intervene with their mother Queen Elizabeth but with his death warrant signed by her, on 25 February 1601 Essex was executed on Tower Green in the Tower of London. The death sentence handed down to the Earl of Southampton was commuted to life imprisonment. After his release in 1603 Bacon sent him a little-known letter in which he alludes to their previous relationship ‘this great change hath wrought in me no other change towards your Lordship than this, that I may safely be now that which I was truly before.’

The last years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign was dominated by the competing Essex and Cecil factions, a political rivalry dominated by the future direction of the English crown. Both Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley and his son Sir Robert Cecil were privy to the secret that Queen Elizabeth secretly married her lover Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester and that she had given birth to two children Francis Tudor Bacon and Robert Tudor Devereux.

In Troilus and Cressida Achilles (a portrait of Essex), Patroculus and Thersites represent the triangular relationship between Essex, Southampton and his secretary Henry Cuffe, a former professor of Greek at Oxford who was also executed for treason in 1601, with the characters Nestor and Ulysses identifiable with Burghley and his son Sir Robert Cecil. Following the death of his royal brother Essex who haunts the play and at a time when his ill mother was slowly dying Bacon faced an uncertain and dangerous future as the unrecognised heir to the throne. The death of the Tudor dynasty was looming on the horizon a subject Bacon was to address in the most famous play in the history of dramatic literature first published the year his royal mother died in 1603.

The Tragedy of Hamlet shadows the most explosive and sensational secrets of the Elizabethan reign in which the not so Virgin Queen was secretly married to Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester with whom she produced two concealed royal princes Francis Tudor Bacon and Robert Tudor Devereux. It tells the tale of its author a disinherited royal prince Francis Tudor Bacon in the shape of Hamlet who is denied his rightful kingship by his mother Queen Elizabeth and the exhaustion and death of the Tudor dynasty. Behind its dramatis personae lies the leading figures of the Elizabethan period: Francis Bacon Tudor concealed Prince of Wales (Prince Hamlet), Queen Elizabeth Tudor (Queen Gertrude) and her secret husband Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester (King Claudius), Robert Tudor Devereux (Laertes), Sir Nicholas Bacon (the Ghost of Old Hamlet) and Sir William Cecil (Polonius).

The first scene of Hamlet is set in darkness at midnight with its associated themes of secrecy and concealed identity. The pregnant stage direction ‘Enter Barnardo, and Francisco, two Centinels’ is followed by Barnardo asking Francisco the profoundly meaningful question in the first line of the play ‘Who’s there?’ (1:1:1). The name Francisco is the Spanish/Portuguese form of the English name Francis. The name of the sentinel Francisco (Francis) alongside the chosen name of the other sentinel Barnardo (Barnard in English) is doubly significant. The names Francis and Barnard possess the Christian name of Bacon and the initials of Francis Bacon. The names Francisco and Barnardo also contain an anagram of Francis Bacon. To the meaningly profound question then ‘Who’s there’, the answer is Francis Bacon, secret concealed author of The Tragical Historie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark.

Interspersed throughout the greatest tragedy in world literature telling the story of the demise of the Tudor dynasty are lines, sentences and passages identical in thought and similar in expression, providing resemblances, correspondences and parallels from more than thirty of Bacon’s writings, among them: unpublished manuscripts, private letters and speeches; various essays including Of Revenge and Of Death, the two key themes of the play; as well as An Inquiry Concerning the Ways of Death and The History of Life and Death; short occasional pieces Physiological Remains and Short Notes for Civil Conversation; political works A Brief Discourse Touching the Happy Union of the Kingdom of England and Scotland and The Case of the Post-Nati of Scotland as well as the state sanctioned A Declaration of the Practices and Treasons of the Earl of Essex; his philosophical and scientific treatises The Advancement of Learning, Wisdom of the Ancients, Novum Organum, De Augmentis Scientiarum and Sylva Sylvarum; and several of his obscure relatively unknown and unread legal treatises A Discourse upon the Commission of Bridewell, The Argument in Lowe’s Case of Tenures, The Charge of Owen Indicted for High Treason, The Reading Upon the Statues of Uses, The Maxims of the Common Law and The Ordinances made by Lord Chancellor Bacon in Chancery.

The complex Measure for Measure has at its heart the God-like Rosicrucian figure of Duke Vincentio one of the longest roles in the Shakespeare canon. He is a surrogate of the dramatist himself made in his own image. The secretive and enigmatic character Duke Vincentio adopts multiple masks, disguises, and identities in Measure for Measure, like the true author of the play, who himself outside of the play itself, also adopts multiple identities and disguises, behind his various literary living masks including the pseudonym of Shakespeare. The Duke is a disguised dramatic portrait of his creator Francis Bacon, the supreme head of the Rosicrucian-Freemasonry Brotherhood, with the Duke in the play watching over Vienna just like Bacon, reflected in his Rosicrucian utopia New Atlantis, watches over the world and the future of mankind. In the play, the Duke seeks to build a new, fair and just society based upon love just as Bacon with his Rosicrucian Brotherhood set in motion a plan for A Universal Reformation of the Whole World.

The subjects explored by Bacon in his essays Of Envy, Of Suspicion, Of Cunning, Of Ambition, Of Anger and Of Revenge similarly inform the key themes running throughout Othello. The ambitious Iago frustrated his career is being blocked when Othello names Cassio his lieutenant becomes the personification of evil. Through his cunning and lies he pours suspicion into the ears of Othello with his false insinuations against Desdemona driven by his anger towards Othello. He in turn directs his jealous anger toward his wife Desdemona, culminating in him strangling her to death. The envy Iago harbours for Cassio drives him to murder and when his wife reveals the truth about the handkerchief, he takes his revenge and stabs her to death. When Othello finally realises that he has been duped he likewise takes his revenge and stabs Iago before killing himself.

The Tragedy of Othello written in 1604 first appeared in print in a quarto edition in 1622 with another version of Othello appearing the following year in the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio. Astonishingly, a comparative examination of the 1622 quarto edition and the version of Othello in the First Folio reveals that the latter is 160 lines longer and differs in wording in more than a thousand instances. Of course, the concealed author of Othello was still very much alive in 1622 and 1623, which surely to any rational person is of some critical importance!

The balance of the mind, family and kingdom of King Lear represents the concept of the balance of power in sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe, the central predominant principle of European international relations explored by Bacon in his essay Of Empire in which he presents the necessary policy guidelines for maintaining a balance of power. The play serves as a dramatic embodiment of Bacon’s Doctrine of Negotiations condensed into the small compass of his tragedy whose central theme is the ingratitude of humankind and its inability to recognise love. In his essay Of Parents and Children Bacon states, ‘The difference in affection of parents towards their several children is many times unequal; and sometimes unworthy’, and he may have added disastrous, seen in the parentage of King Lear and the consequence of his attitude towards his daughters Goneril, Regan and Cordelia.

In Shakespeare’s Doctrine of Nature: A Study of King Lear Professor John F. Danby correctly states that King Lear dramatises the meanings of Nature it being ‘the real Novum Organum of Elizabethan thought’, that incorporates the ‘technical meanings of Novum Organum’, follows other theories articulated by Bacon, with thought in King Lear expressed in Baconian language, and ‘the view of the Lear party’ the same as that expressed by Bacon in his other acknowledged writings.

The central dominant themes of the Scottish tragedy Macbeth are kingship (Bacon was deprived of his kingship by James I), betrayal (he was betrayed by his own mother Queen Elizabeth who never recognised his right to the throne) and ambition, the subject Bacon wrote an essay on around the time he penned Macbeth.

In his essay Of Ambition Bacon says ambition is like a choler, a disease, which spreads if it is not stopped and if the desires of ambitious men are checked they become secretly discontent and look upon other men and matters with an evil eye. Ambitious men prove dangerous and are obnoxious to ruin. Echoing a theme in his essay Of Simulation and Dissimulation ambitious people are full of equivocations and double meanings with their sly intentions to deceive, the marked characteristics of the evil pair Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. His Advancement of Learning published in 1605 during the same period Bacon was conjuring up Macbeth (believed to have been c. 1605-6), explore strikingly similar themes about the effects of the mind, and the nature and state of man, with the tragedy sharing many other parallels with his acknowledged writings and works.

In his essay Of Love written around the same time as Antony and Cleopatra whose passionate love affair dominates the whole play Bacon writes, ‘The stage is more beholding to Love, than the life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever a matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies. . .You may observe, that amongst all the great and worthy persons. . .there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love. . .except nevertheless Marcus Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome. . .’ His essay Of Love serves as a knowing commentary and critique on Antony and Cleopatra generally believed to have been written in 1607-8, which first appeared in print in the Shakespeare First Folio.

Images of instability characterise the play with the philosophy of instability and the delusion of humanity one of the themes addressed by Bacon in his Idols of the Cave in Novum Organum first printed in 1620 followed by Idols of the Theatre meaning ‘all received systems are but so many stage-plays, representing worlds of their own creation after an unreal and scenic fashion’, just as the characters of Antony and Cleopatra are portrayed by Bacon in the play.

His portrait of Cleopatra shadows Queen Elizabeth and Antony owes something to the tragic history of the Earl of Essex with the complicated and destructive relationship between Antony and Cleopatra mirroring a similar relationship between Elizabeth and Essex, aspects of which in the play are drawn from first-hand knowledge of their real lives, known only all too well to its author, Bacon.

When writing The Advancement of Learning (1605) Bacon also had in mind Coriolanus. When the play was written remains undetermined. It seems the first version cannot have been written before 1605, since the first scene of the play appears to draw on William Camden’s Remains of a Greater Work Concerning Britaine (1605), for one or two of its minor details with most Shakespeare commentators placing its date of composition or revision around 1607-8. It was first printed in the Shakespeare First Folio. Both the Advancement and Coriolanus includes passages devoted to Menenius’ fable of the belly and Bacon’s essay Of Friendship with its ‘god or beast’ idea also rests behind Coriolanus.

The play has echoes of the Essex uprising with discernible parallels between the life of his brother the Earl of Essex and its eponymous character Coriolanus, who were both seen as traitors by the state and condemned for selfishly seeking power for their own ends.

The play takes its name and is set in the reign of the legendary British king Cymbeline who is said to have reigned from 33 BC shortly after the birth of Christ and in the time of Augustus Caesar. King Cymbeline appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain as one of King Arthur’s predecessors on the British throne prior to the conquest of Britain by the Romans. The play is closely connected with the old town of Verulam close to the site of the Bacon’s country estate Gorhambury and from whence Bacon took his title Baron Verulam.

The site of old Verulam, St Albans (the proto-martyr St Alban is said to be the legendary founder of Freemasonry a myth concealing its true founder Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Albans) was the ancient seat of Cassibulan (or Casibilane), uncle to King Cymbeline, that prompted the title and subject matter of the play.

Beneath the surface there are numerous subterranean layers of esoteric Rosicrucian themes and symbolism with its enigmatic imagery akin to the two anonymous Rosicrucian manifestos written by Bacon. The mystery of the cave in Cymbeline mirrors the key central symbol of the first Rosicrucian manifesto the Fama Fraternitatis where in its vault/cave is found the tomb of Christian Rosencreutz, the fictional founder of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood. Imogen’s death-like sleep and resurrection in Cymbeline reflects moreover the rituals of initiation through the enaction of the mystery of death in the third Rosicrucian document The Chemical Wedding.

From the time King James inherited the throne the union of England and Scotland dominated the political agenda in the years leading up to the writing of The Winter’s Tale in which these matters are encoded within it. At the very epicentre of the political process of the union between England and Scotland stood Bacon who through his parliamentary activity and speeches and his private and published writings did more than anyone else to help guide the matter to a satisfactory conclusion. In 1603 he published a treatise entitled A Brief Discourse Touching the Happy Union of Kingdoms of England and Scotland in which he fully supported the idea and at the same time he was heavily involved in the parliamentary sessions from 1604 to 1610 wherein the divisive question of the union dominated the political agenda, with Bacon central to every aspect of it.

In the autumn of 1604 he was working on the Anglo-Scottish committee and wrote Certain Articles or Considerations touching the Union of the Kingdoms of England and Scotland in which he addressed in some detail the legal and political changes that were necessary for a successful union. In 1605 Bacon further promoted the union with a new ‘History of Britain’ project which he returned to again some years later. His most pressing arguments for the union were presented in a long speech in the House of Commons on 17 February 1607 ‘Concerning the Articles of Naturalization’, further augmented with his other related writings Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Great Britain and essay Of the Greatness of Kingdoms included in the second edition of his Essays published in 1612. It was during the latter part of this period that Bacon wrote The Winter’s Tale dated by Shakespeare scholars somewhere between 1609 and 1611.

His essay Of Gardens also shows a remarkable number of correspondences, resemblances and parallels with The Winter’s Tale as well as several other Shakespeare plays. In Act 4 Scene 4 of The Winter's Tale Perdita explicitly refers to the Proserpina myth which he also discussed in De Sapientia Veterum (The Wisdom of the Ancients) first published in 1609 also written around the same time he wrote the play.

The date the tragedy of Timon of Athens was written remains uncertain with scholars conjecturally assigning it anywhere from between 1605 and 1610 which may or may not have been a first version of the play. There is no record of any performance in the Jacobean era and all that we know of it can only be gleaned from its first printed text in the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio, parts of which were composed or at the very least re-written and revised sometime after Bacon’s political fall in 1621.

In his essay Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature he highlights and emphasises its two key themes firstly goodness, what ‘the Grecians call Philanthropy, which ‘of all the virtues and dignities of the mind is the greatest’ and misanthropy, that Bacon personifies in the figure of Timon of Athens.

In his essay Of Friendship Bacon observes ‘Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god’, which is (observes its Oxford editor), ‘a suitable epigram for Timon of Athens.’

In the play its titular character Timon moves from his natural magnanimity and prodigious generosity to a state of misanthropy as a result of his devastating change in circumstances and the unkindness and ingratitude of his erstwhile friends all of whom had benefitted from his largess and philanthropy, who then subsequently desert him.

The complex character of Timon of Athens partly reflects the story of Bacon after his fall when in order that King James could save the favourite George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, he sacrificed Bacon in one of the greatest political betrayals in English history, that has continued to unjustly damage his reputation in the eyes of posterity to the present day. He was sentenced by the House of Lords on trumped up charges of taking bribes. Dismissed from his position as Lord Chancellor, he was briefly imprisoned in the Tower and fined the enormous sum of £40,000. On his release Bacon was forbidden from entering London and exiled to Gorhambury where he endured hardship and in these drastically different circumstances his fair-weathered friends, who had previously benefitted from his greatness and generosity cruelly abandoned him.

Timon of Athens dramatically echoes the circumstances of its author Bacon of London, who unlike his titular character, rose from the absolute depths of despair to spend the last years of his known life writing, revising and translating his works for publication, with the help of those loyal good pens who had not deserted him. Among them, his longtime inward friend Ben Jonson, who helped Bacon with the 1623 Shakespeare First Folio, the greatest Baconian-Rosicrucian-Freemasonic work in the history of the world.

The mythical immortal bird the Phoenix that lives every four or five hundred years is a symbol of renaissance and rebirth and has long been associated with Bacon and his Rosicrucian-Freemasonry Brotherhood. Behind his pseudonym Shakespeare in Henry VIII Bacon refers to himself as the Phoenix who was destined to become the invisible Father of the Modern World and change the future direction of humanity.

The Shakespeare play covers only a part of Henry VIII’s reign from the Field of the Cloth of Gold in 1520 to the christening of Princess Elizabeth in 1533. Among other things it depicts the rise to the king’s favour of Anne Boleyn and the birth to Henry and Anne of a daughter, instead of the longed for son. A grand procession escorts the newly born royal infant before the assembled court where she is solemnly presented to the king by Archbishop Cranmer.

Writing in retrospect in a play written years after Elizabeth’s death, Cranmer presents a prophecy (a dramatic invention by Bacon) in which the phoenix-like Princess Elizabeth in turn gives birth to a phoenix-like son and heir. A star which the fullness of time would reveal to be as great in fame as she was, one who would discover new nations (United States of America). He is likened in Rosicrucian metaphorical language to mountain cedar branches (reminiscent of the cedar used for the building of Solomon’s Temple representing the symbolic or mythical beginnings of Freemasonry) who would like a slow growing vine, as with his Rosicrucian Brotherhood secretly and invisibly build a new world for the future of mankind, which when eventually revealed, the children of posterity will give thanks to heaven and fully rejoice of him:

'The bird of wonder dies-the maiden phoenix-

Her ashes new create another heir

As great in admiration as herself,

So shall she leave her blessedness to one,

When heaven shall call her from this cloud of darkness,

Who from the sacred ashes of her honour

Shall star-like rise as great in fame as she was,

His honour and the greatness of his name

Shall be, and make new nations. He shall flourish,

And like a mountain cedar reach his branches

To all the plains about him. Our children’s children

Shall see this, and bless heaven.'

(5: 4: 40-46, 51-55)

The Tempest is perhaps the most Baconian of all the Shakespeare plays. Its central God-like figure the scientific-philosopher Prospero is a disguised dramatic portrait made in the image of his creator, the scientific-philosopher Francis Bacon, the Founding Father of Modern Science and Founding Father of the Modern World.

Through his all-knowing and all-seeing mind, the scientific-philosopher Prospero controls the world and future destiny of humankind and can be seen as the commander-in-chief of the Rosicrucian Brothers who govern Salomon’s House in Bacon’s New Atlantis (Land of the Rosicrucians), with Solomon’s Temple adopted as the foundation legend of its outer body, the Freemasonry Brotherhood. The Tempest described by Dr Yates as a Rosicrucian manifesto, is a condensed dramatic reflection of the discovery of the New World of North America and New Atlantis (Land of the Rosicrucians) a philosophical and scientific blueprint for what became the United States of America, whose coeval the Rosicrucian manifesto Fama Fraternitatis was first set forth with their godly statement of intent for The Universal Reformation of the Whole World.

Like Prospero, above his kingdom, Bacon valued books and learning in his service and enduring legacy to humankind.

The vast majority of images are in the public domain or under commons licence from the National Portrait Gallery or from the author’s own collection.


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