A correspondent to this week's Spectator has just read a book which he thinks demonstrates the true identity of the works of Shakespeare, based on a decoding of the dedication to the sonnets: 'to the onlie begetter of these insuing sonnets mr w h all happinesse'. Brenda James, in The Truth Will Out (2005) shows that it is an anagram of 'the wise thorp hid thy poet, Henry Nevell writer'. Thorpe was the publisher. Henry Neville was a contemporary.
It's amazing what you can do with anagrams. To take another one, Robert Nield's Breaking the Shakespeare Codes: the Sensational Discovery of the Bard's True Identity (2007) shows you can twist the letters around to make it read: 'Bringe help to William Hastings the unseene poet of these sonnets'.
There's always a bit of cheating going on in these exercises. The Brenda James solution requires you to take a vowel (the 'u' in 'insuing') as a consonant (the 'v' of 'Neville'). The Nield solution requires that you miss out one of the letters (the 'r' of 'mr').
If you keep all the letters in, and maintain their values, you can find all sorts of things. 'George W Bush' is in there, for a start. I have spent months of research (well, five minutes, actually) to make the following sensational discovery about who the real author of the Sonnets was, and what he thought about all those who would later be unable to believe that a glover from Stratford could be a genius.
onlie he wiliam shagsper is the sonnet begetter
flee nonstop hunts
'Shagsper' is one of the attested spellings of the name, at the time.
By the way, the dedication also contains the words 'best wishes in the happie festiue season'. Which seems an appropriate way to end this pre-Christmas post.