Dozens of important books from the Elizabethan era praise Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, for his patronage of literature in general, and for encouraging the creation and publication of specific works. In sheer numbers, William Cecil and the Earl of Leicester patronized more books. But "Oxford's Books," have a robust, hyper-intelligent and even bawdy character, a special collection in publishing history because they form the reading matter and the linguistic universe in which "Shake-speare", as poet and wordsmith, resided. The Oxford books are pivotal pieces of the literary Renaissance in England, and these books are found reflected in the themes and language of the Shakespeare plays. Could de Vere have been the true author of Shakespeare's plays and poetry, using the man from Stratford as a front? In the first half of this volume, Robert Brazil gives a lucid explanation of the Shakespeare/ Oxford authorship question. In the second half, Brazil adds his own findings to this complex and contentious playing field. Through association with specific printers and publishers, Brazil links de Vere to the men who first printed "Shakespeare." These printers and sellers turn out to be key suppliers of works classified as Shakespeare apocrypha, as well as works that Shakespeare drew upon, the so called "Sources of Shakespeare," which include everything from Holinshed's chronicles, to translations, anonymous plays, poetry, and editions of the Psalms. Following the existing paper trail, Brazil additionally shows that "Shake-speare" edited his own books, for improved published editions, but only from 1598 to 1604. After 1604, the year of de Vere's death, access to texts and to the original editor was permanently interrupted.
Robert Sean Brazil (1955-2010) studied the Shakespeare authorship question and the Oxford theory for most of his professional life. He published unique research on the title-page emblems found on Shakespeare quartos, was a key provider of Elizabethan texts on the Internet, and served in an editorial capacity on the Oxfordian journal and the Shakespeare-Oxford Newsletter. He received a B. A. in History from the State University of New York, and did graduate work at Fordham University. A former high school history teacher, Robert was working as a professional editor and print designer in Ithaca, NY at the time of his death.