On Edmund Ironside

Letter to the Editor

Times Literary Supplement, 9 May 1986; © the estate of eric sams

Sir. — Let me assure Inga-Stina Ewbank (April 25) that there is indeed “such a thing as a Shakespearean scholarly establishment”, and that her own arrogantly dismissive tones are all too typical of its attitudes and standards.

    Can she really have been reading the same play that has convinced theatre critics (such as Charlotte Keatley) of its Shakespearean authorship, and in the same edition that creative writers (such as Anthony Burgess) have declared cogent and persuasive?

    Even among her fellow-academics (such as John Jones, John Kerrigan, Randall Martin, Richard Proudfoot, Stanley Wells and John Wilders), only Professor Ewbank has failed to see that what she derides as the “alleged Shakespearean ‘echoes’” in Edmund Ironside are so clear and copious as to call for specific explanation, not just generalized jeering.

    Of course she is entitled to her own personal feelings and opinions. But she should surely stop pretending that these represent self-evident truths; and I find her dictum “misrepresentations of evidence” doubly offensive from so subjective a source. I think she should either seek to substantiate that grave charge or else retract it with apologies to all the many adherents the Ironside evidence has won during the past thirty years.

Eric Sams

32 Arundel Avenue,

Sanderstead, Surrey