Far from being an ambitious entertainer who played down his Catholic roots under a repressive Elizabethan regime, Shakespeare took deliberate risks each time he took up his quill, according to Clare Asquith’s new book Shadowplay. She argues that the plays and poems are a network of crossword puzzle-like clues to his strong Catholic beliefs and his fears for England’s future. Aside from being the first to spot this daring Shakespearean code, Asquith also claims to be the first to have cracked it.
‘It has not been picked up on before because people have not had the complete context,’ she explained this weekend. ‘I am braced for flak, but we now know we have had the history from that period wrong for a long time because we have seen it through the eyes of the Protestant, Whig ascendancy who, after all, have written the history.’
I had previously heard Professor David Allen White on the Hugh Hewitt show discuss new evidence that Shakespeare’s poem "The Phoenix
and Turtle", which had previously defied any key to interpretation, in reality had a very Catholic connection. John Linnis and Michael Wood in a Times Literary Supplement for 18 April 2003 were able to interpret this poem using the key where
the phoenix "is" Ann Line (executed for religion at Tyburn a few months before the standardly accepted date of the commissioning and publication of the volume in which the poem appeared), and the turtledove "is" her husband Roger Line, who had died in exile. This article is not online but one of the authors posted about it here. The National Catholic Register previously reported on this in this article Did William Shakespeare Die a Papist?