Who Was Shakespeare and What Did He Look Like?

Shakespeare hovers in the wings 400 years on. He’s always there, isn’t he? Watching and ready to comment. Whoever he is…

Intermittently this month I’ve been reading Shakespeare By Another Name, Mark Anderson’s book about the Oxford theory. You know, Edward de Vere actually wrote the works we know as Shakespeare’s.

Happened to find the book in a second-hand store around the time I was watching Anonymous again. The 2011 Roland Emmerich film plays with the same idea. Who was Shakespeare?

And what did he look like?

I’ve written here recently about scholars in Guelph, Ontario, and elsewhere who believe a four-centuries-old portrait owned by an Ottawa family is the authentic likeness of Shakespeare painted during his lifetime.

Lloyd Sullivan says the so-called Sanders portrait, depicted above, has been passed through his family from John Sanders, reputed to have been a painter and actor with Shakespeare’s theatre company.

The Sanders likeness challenges long-time contender portraits, notably the Chandos portrait championed by England’s National Portrait Gallery and the Cobbe portrait put forward by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

Here’s a story published this past week, including a link to a Globe and Mail story about a recent tentative agreement to sell the Sanders portrait to a Canadian family. Who’s the buyer? Anonymous, of course.