Charles Wisner Barrell

Charles Wisner Barrell

Charles Wisner Barrell (July 6, 1885 – July 1974) was an American film maker and supporter of the Oxfordian theory of Shakespeare authorship.

Barrell worked as director of Motion Pictures for the Western Electric Company, making documentaries.[1] He also worked in public relations for various businesses. He became an advocate of J. Thomas Looney's theory that the works of Shakespeare were written by Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford. He wrote many essays in support of this view. In 1934 he came to England looking for archival evidence to link de Vere to the works of Shakespeare. He hoped to identify the illegitimate son of Oxford and Anne Vavasour, who he believed to be the Fair Youth of the sonnets.

He is best known for his studies of The Ashbourne portrait, which had been believed to depict Shakespeare. He examined the portrait using X-ray and infra-red photography in hopes of finding hidden clues to its origin. He stated that he had found evidence that it was a portrait of Oxford and that the initials C.K. were visible beneath the surface. He took the view that these were the initials of Cornelius Ketel, an artist known to have painted a portrait of the Earl of Oxford. Later studies contradicted Barrell's evidence, identifying the portrait's sitter as Hugh Hamersley. Barrell also claimed that the Janssen portrait depicted the earl. More recent studies identify it as a portrayal of Thomas Overbury.[2]

When the Second World War curtailed Shakespearean studies in England, Barrell helped to establish an American branch of the Shakespeare Fellowship and publish a newsletter.[3]


  1. ^ Pressly, 63
  2. ^ Folger Shakespeare Library
  3. ^ Hope, Warren; Kim Holston (2009). The Shakespeare Controversy: An Analysis of the Authorship Theories. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. pp. 94. ISBN 978-0-7864-3917-1. 

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  • Charlton Greenwood Ogburn — (19 Aug 1882, Butler, Georgia 26 Feb 1962) was a practicing lawyer who was drawn into the Shakespearean authorship question when Charles Wisner Barrell approached him for assistance in his lawsuit against Folger Shakespeare Library Director Giles …   Wikipedia

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