The Backgrounds of Shakespeare's Plays

By Karl J. Holzknecht | Go to book overview

That Fulke Greville desired to be "known to posterity under no other notions than of Shakespeare's and Ben Jonson's Master, Chancellor Egerton's Patron, Bishop Overal's Lord, and Sir Philip Sidney's Friend" ( David Lloyd, Statesmen and Favourites of England, 1665).

The basis of this statement is perhaps Greville's famous epitaph: "Servant to Queen Elizabeth, Councellor to King James, Friend to Sir Philip Sidney."

That Shakespeare slept one night under a crab-tree at Bidford after a bout with the Bidford sippers (Letter in The British Magazine, 1762, elaborated by John Jordan some time between 1770 and 1790).

Jordan is known to have conducted visitors through Stratford and to have corresponded with Edmund Malone.

That Shakespeare wrote facetious verses on the name of John Combe (A Relation of a Short Survey of Twenty-six Counties . . . by a Captain, a Lieutenant, and an Ancient . . . 1634).

The epigram is frequently quoted in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and by 1740 it is stated that Shakespeare also wrote one on Tom Combe, brother to John. More significant than the tradition of a paltry satirical epitaph is the fact that, as early as 1634, Stratford was becoming a shrine for pilgrims.


Portraits

Only two of the numerous portraits of Shakespeare can be regarded as in any sense authentic: the half-length statue by Gerard Janssen on the monument in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford, and the copper-plate engraving by Martin Droeshout for the First Folio edition of Shakespeare's plays, 1623, Neither is a life portrait, but both were executed within six or seven years of the poet's death, and both must have had the approval of Shakespeare's relatives, friends, or fellow workers. Other portraits professing to be Shakespeare's (including the "Flower Portrait," inscribed "1609" and called the "Droeshout Original," in the Memorial Library at Stratford) have been rejected either as derivatives from the two accepted originals or as otherwise unauthentic (see M. H. Spielmann, "Shakespeare's Portraiture," in Studies in the First Folio Written for the Shakespeare Association, 1924).


SUGGESTED REFERENCES

For bibliography pertaining to this chapter, see p. 3.

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The Backgrounds of Shakespeare's Plays
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vii
  • 1 - Shakespeare's Life in Fact and Tradition 1
  • Suggested References 32
  • 2 - Shakespeare's England 33
  • Suggested References 61
  • 3 - The Drama Before Shakespeare 63
  • Suggested References 89
  • 4 - Elizabethan Theatrical Companies 92
  • Suggested References 114
  • 5 - The Elizabethan Public Playhouse 115
  • Suggested References 144
  • 6 - The Influence of Theatrical Conditions on Shakespeare 146
  • Suggested References 166
  • 7 - Shakespeare's Audience 167
  • Suggested References 185
  • 8 - Shakespeare's English 186
  • Suggested References 219
  • 9 - The Sources of Shakespeare's Play 220
  • Suggested References 245
  • 10 - Some General Aspects Of Shakespeare's Dramatic Art 247
  • Suggested References 265
  • 11 - Shakespearean Comedy 268
  • Suggested References 291
  • 12 - Shakespeare's History Plays 293
  • Suggested References 320
  • 13 - Shakespearean Tragedy 322
  • Suggested References 341
  • 14 - Shakespeare in Print 343
  • Suggested References 371
  • 15 - Shakespeare's Reputation 374
  • Suggested References 404
  • 16 - Shakespeare on the Stage 407
  • Suggested References 437
  • 17 - Shakespearean Scenes and Characters 439
  • Index 471
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