Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

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Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford (12 April 155024 June 1604) was an Elizabethan courtier, poet and patron of numerous writers.


  • So I the pleasant grape have pulled from the vine,
    And yet I languish in great thirst, while others drink the wine.
    • from "Care and Disappointment", first published in Paradyse of Dainty Devices (1576). Published by Grosart in Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies' Library, Vol. IV (1872)
  • A valiant mind no deadly danger fears;
    • From "Reason and Affection". First published in Paradyse of Dainty Devices (1576), revised in the 1596 edition. It is also known as "Being in Love he complaineth". Published by Grosart in Miscellanies of the Fuller Worthies' Library, Vol. IV (1872)


  • If women could be fair and yet not fond,
    Or that their love were firm, not fickle still,
    I would not marvel that they make men bond
    By service long to purchase their good will;
    But when I see how frail those creatures are,
    I laugh that men forget themselves so far.
    • Poem "If women could be fair and yet not fond", also sometimes titled "Woman's Changeableness". According to Oxford specialist Steven May this is "possibly" by Oxford, but his authorship is not certain. It was printed in variant form as the work of Oxford in 1587, but attributed to "R.W." in the Harleian MS. A version was printed in Britons Bower of Delights (1591) attributed to Oxford.
  • My mind to me a kingdom is;
    Such perfect joy therein I find
    That it excels all other bliss
    That world affords or grows by kind.
    Though much I want which most men have,
    Yet still my mind forbids to crave.
    • Attributed to Oxford by May, but also published as the work of Edward Dyer.

About the Earl of Oxford

  • This Earl of Oxford, making of his low obeisance to Queen Elizabeth, happened to let a Fart, at which he was so abashed and ashamed that he went to Travel [for] 7 years. On his return the Queen welcomed him home, and said, 'My Lord, I had forgot the Fart'.
    • Anecdote recorded by John Aubrey in Brief Lives (1693).
  • I overtook, coming from Italy,
    In Germany, a great and famous Earl
    Of England; the most goodly fashioned man
    I ever saw: from head to foot in form
    Rare and most absolute; he had a face
    Like one of the most ancient honoured Romans
    From whence his noblest family was derived;
    He was besides of spirit passing great
    Valiant and learned, and liberal as the sun,
    Spoke and writ sweetly, or of learned subjects,
    Or of the discipline of public weals:
    And 'twas the Earl of Oxford.
  • But what if it turns out, as it just possibly might, that William Shakespeare of Stratford was not the author of the plays ascribed to him? There is a theory, advanced by reputable scholars, seriously and, in my opinion, plausibly, that Shakespeare merely lent his name as a cover for the literary activities of another person, perhaps the Earl of Oxford. If, by some terrible chance, this theory should be proved, then straightway Stratford's tourist business would dwindle. It would become just one more, and honestly not one in the first ten, of England's picturesque small towns.
  • A little apish hat, couched fast to the pate, like an oyster;
    French cambric ruffs, deep with a witness, starched to the purpose:
    Delicate in speech; quaint in array; conceited in all points;
    In courtly guiles, a passing singular odd man.
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