Willie Hughes - Later Writers

Later Writers

After Wilde the Hughes theory was pursued by other writers. Samuel Butler accepted some aspects of it, regarding the name 'Will Hughes' as a "plausible conjecture". He identified him with a real William Hughes who was a ship's cook and who died in 1636. W.B. Brown identified puns on "Hughes" in the repeated deployment of the words "use" and "unused", along with the words "form", "image", "shape" and "shadow", which he interpreted as variants of the concept "hues". Wilde's former lover, Lord Alfred Douglas argued in The True History of Shakespeare's Sonnets that Wilde had believed the Hughes theory. He endorsed Butler's version of it.

The writer Percy Allen created a new twist on the theory when he claimed in 1934 that Hughes was the illegitimate son of Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford and Queen Elizabeth I. In accordance with Oxfordian theory, Allen believed that de Vere was the true author of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. He believed that Hughes became an actor who also used the same pseudonym as his father. De Vere wrote the sonnets for his son, giving a coded account of his relationship to the "dark lady", the Queen. Allen's speculations were the model for what became known as Prince Tudor theory.

Clarkson, in Saturday Review of Literature, identified a William Hughes who was the translator of Mirror of Justices in 1646. He was possibly a student in the first decade of the 17th century. An article in the Times Literary Supplement in 1938 argued that there was an apprentice shoemaker by that name who was employed by Christopher Marlowe's father, and may have travelled to London with Marlowe to become an actor, meeting Shakespeare there.

Most later scholars of the Sonnets have rejected or ignored the theory due to the lack of corroborative evidence for the existence of Hughes.

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