Warwick's 'Anonymous' Shakespeare sleuth

| 15 Feb 2012 | 10:09

    The recently released film “Anonymous” dramatizes the theory that William Shakespeare was the pseudonym of Edward de Vere and that the Bard’s works were chock full of the political intrigue of Queen Elizabeth’s court. This idea has been around a long time and is as popular with conspiracy theorists as the Kennedy assassination. Whether or not you are a believer, naysayer,or just think it’s fun to think about, did you realize that one of the key proponents of this notion was a Warwick man? Charles Wisner Barrell (1885-1974), who was born and raised here, was a major advocate and author on the subject. A biographical sketch of his life and his involvement with the controversial view appears in the Winter 2010 issue of the journal “Shakespeare Matters.” The article’s author Mike A’dair contacted the local history department of Albert Wisner Public Library and the archive of the historical society to find out more about the man a few years ago. It turns out Barrell was the grandson of none other than E. B. Hornby, who penned the classic collection of local lore “Under Old Rooftrees.” It appears her literary bent was passed on in the family and led her grandson on a wonderful odyssey. His brother, Donald Barrell, was the celebrated local history researcher and author of Sugar Loaf. Charles was a connoisseur of all things artistic, an accomplished art critic and film maker as well as a prolific author. To find out more about him, Google “Charles Wisner Barrell” in quotations and add the keyword Warwick and you will see A’dair’s article as part of the 2009 Joint Shakespeare Authorship Conference on the first page of results. Or if you rather, e-mail me and I will send you a direct link to the article. As for the truth of the matter, draw your own conclusions— and by all means, have fun! Sue Gardner sgardner@rcls.org Local History Librarian