In his edition of the Shakespeare sonnets, the Stratfordian scholar Stephen Booth includes the title page of The Newe Jewell of Health, wherein is contained the most excellent Secrets of Physic and Philosophy, divided into four Books by the surgeon George Baker, published in 1576.
Editor Booth presents an illustration of this important book in connection with Sonnet 119, which builds upon metaphors and analogies from alchemy and medicine:
What potions have I drunk of siren tears,
Distilled from limbecks foul as hell within…
“Shakespeare” knew all about the “distillations” of waters, oils, balms and so on as set forth by Dr. Baker, whose book has been long considered a key source for the Bard’s interest in alchemy as well as the full range of medical knowledge at the time. And it just so happens that Dr. Baker, who would become surgeon to Queen Elizabeth, was the personal physician of Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford, and that he dedicated The New Jewel of Health to Oxford’s wife Anne Cecil. In fact Baker dedicated his first book, Olenum Magistrale (1574) to Edward de Vere and, later on, dedicated his Practice of the New and Old Physic (1599) to the earl as well.
This is one relatively small example of how “Shakespeare’s” remarkable knowledge of medicine is mirrored by Oxford’s own demonstrable connection to the leading medical experts and advances of his time, not only in England but also on the Continent. It’s also just the beginning of Reason No. 39 to believe that the Oxford theory of Shakespearean authorship makes sense of otherwise plain nonsense.
George Baker was part of the household of Edward de Vere, whose patronage undoubtedly made it possible for this forward-looking doctor-surgeon and medical pioneer to write his books in the first place.
If Dr. Baker had just once treated William Shakspere for a cut finger, upholders of the Stratfordian faith would have devoted entire books to that medical incident with titles such as Will & George, Poet & Physician: Their Amazing Relationship and Its Influence Upon Shakespeare’s Life and Work.
On the other hand, Editor Booth uses a full page to illustrate The Newe Jewell of Health in connection with Shakespeare’s sonnets, but never indicates that Dr. Baker dedicated that very book to the wife of the leading candidate to replace the Stratford man, not to mention that the doctor dedicated two other books to the Earl of Oxford himself!