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The Shakespeare Code    by Virginia M. Fellows order for
Shakespeare Code
by Virginia M. Fellows
Order:  USA  Can
Snow Mountain Press, 2006 (2006)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

In The Shakespeare Code, Virginia M. Fellows introduces readers to what she believes to be the true life story of Sir Francis Bacon as written into various ciphers found in all of William Shakespeare's works, as well as other popular literary works of the Elizabethan era. According to Fellows and other Baconians, Francis Bacon, the noted Elizabethan philosopher, was the true author of Shakespeare's plays, as well as those of Christopher Marlowe, the poems of Edward Spenser, and many other famous works from late-sixteenth/early-seventeenth century England. Bacon's true purpose in writing them, it is supposed, is not for their entertainment value, but to conceal secret stories that tell of his true heritage and other governmental secrets. These secret passages were apparently concealed in two ciphers not discovered until the nineteenth century, and possibly three others that have yet to be discovered or firmly proven.

The Shakespeare Code seems to be written for those who already believe that Bacon was the writer of Elizabethan theatre's most enduring plays, and not for those who believe the lowly country boy, William Shakespeare from Stratford-on-Avon, was the author of the works that bear his name, or even for those who could be convinced that someone besides Shakespeare was the true author. Also, Fellows does not do a good job of explaining the codes until the appendix at the end that delves deeper into them. Mainly she relates what she believes to be the true story of Francis Bacon as gleaned from the codes - with very few passages taken from the codes themselves, and some quotes from Shakespeare that she believes parallel his life, but could be made to stand for anything given the right suggestion. Also, if this is indeed the true history of Bacon, he's not portrayed here as a particularly sympathetic figure.

All I got out of The Shakespeare Code was that maybe Shakespeare did not write his own work (I am not convinced that Francis Bacon did); perhaps Bacon was the son of Elizabeth I (I am not convinced that he was); and that Bacon did come up with an intricate cipher that, when applied to Shakespeare's First Folio, seems to produce a hidden story (but nothing proves to me that it's more than a coincidence). The biggest question I had by the end of the book was: if what's presented is all true, why has there been no other data on the ciphers since the nineteenth century, especially after the advent of computers that could be programmed to translate them? Though Fellow's source material might prove interesting, The Shakespeare Code lacks the necessary oomph to change people's thinking.

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