Shakespeare Fellowship - First Shakespeare Fellowship

First Shakespeare Fellowship

The first Shakespeare Fellowship, originally devoted to the study of the Shakespeare authorship but endorsing no particular candidate, was founded in England in 1921 after conversations between J. Thomas Looney, the founder of Oxfordian theory, and Sir George Greenwood a prominent anti-Stratfordian who had never identified an alternative author. Bernard Rowland Ward was its principal organiser. It maintained worldwide membership, chiefly in the UK and the United States. Greenwood was made president. Leading supporters of the most prominent alternative candidates were made vice-presidents, including Looney, representing the Oxfordian position, the Baconian William T. Smedley, and the Derbyite Abel Lefranc.

Greenwood retained the presidency until his death in 1928. After his death the Fellowship became increasingly associated with Oxfordian theory. Oxfordian Montagu William Douglas succeeded Greenwood as president, holding the position from 1928 to 1945. Percy Allen was elected in 1944 to replace Douglas, but he resigned after losing a vote of confidence when he declared his intention to use Spiritualist means to research the authorship question. After a vacancy in 1946 Admiral Hubert Holland served (1946-1955), followed by Judge Christmas Humphreys. Under Humphreys, the group changed its name to "The Shakespearean Authorship Society" in 1959, later becoming "The Shakespearean Authorship Trust", the name it currently uses.

Oxfordian scholar and journalist Charles Wisner Barrell was secretary and treasurer of the group during the 1940s, and also was editor of two of the group's publications, the Shakespeare Fellowship Newsletter (1939-1943) and the Shakespeare Fellowship Quarterly (1944-1948).

After returning home to the United States, Barrell set up the American branch of the Shakespeare Fellowship. It was incorporated in 1945. Oxfordian author and attorney Charlton Greenwood Ogburn provided legal assistance in incorporating the organization.

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