Notable U.S. Ambassadors Since 1775: A Biographical Dictionary (Contributions to the Study of Music)

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But it is striking, too, that neither Love's Labour's Lost nor A Midsummer Night's Dream has a single narrative source, something that could have offered Shakespeare a clear shape for the plot. Both comedies are also concerned with the nature of theatre itself, embedding into their final sequence a performance the pageant of the Nine Worthies and the play of Pyramus and Thisbe that both comments on the drama as a whole and analyses audience response.

Shakespeare is clearly reflecting on his own art.

Over the next two years, Shakespeare continued to write comedies set in Italy: The Merchant of Venice marked the continuing influence of Marlowe , depending on The Jew of Malta as Richard II had on Marlowe's Edward II ; Much Ado about Nothing turned a traditional trope of mistaken identity into a dark comedy on the social pressures to marry.

But he also returned to Richard II and began a new cycle of plays, explicitly designed, as the epilogue to Henry V would make plain, to connect with his earlier cycle which had dramatized the collapse of rule, empire, and nation after the early death of Henry V. He turned back to the Queen's Men's play The Famous Victories of Henry V , with its sharp contrast of the prince's riotous youth and victorious adulthood, as a foundation for a prolonged meditation on the looming threat of succeeding to the crown, on the nature of kingship and the identity of England itself.

The two parts of Henry IV and Henry V created a complete and continuous cycle of eight plays in all, a work of extraordinary ambition and scale, something no English dramatist had attempted before or would attempt again. But 1 Henry IV brought him into conflict with a powerful family. In articulating a tension between the world of politics and an alternative culture in which Prince Henry resists the inevitable future call to the throne, Shakespeare originally named the prince's tavern companion Sir John Oldcastle.

Whether deliberately or not, the name was guaranteed to offend the family of William Brooke, Lord Cobham , who had been lord chamberlain from to his death in , for Oldcastle , the Lollard leader revered as a protestant martyr, was Cobham's ancestor. Under pressure from the family the name was changed to Sir John Falstaff, but only after 1 Henry IV had been performed.

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Other names were changed in the play: Russell became Peto since the family name of the earls of Bedford was Russell , while Harvey became Bardolph since Sir William Harvey was about to marry the countess of Southampton. The politics of naming continued into The Merry Wives of Windsor where Master Ford's original name in his disguise, Brook, while allowing watery puns on 'ford', had to be changed to Broom, again after the first performances: Shakespeare may well have first used Brook as a joke at the expense of Lord Cobham's surname.

Rowe reported that Shakespeare wrote Merry Wives at Queen Elizabeth's request, the queen being so pleased with the character of Falstaff that she 'commanded him to continue it for one Play more, and to shew him in Love' Works , ed. The anecdote is unlikely to be true, but it is far more probable that the play was performed at the celebrations in May before the installation into the Order of the Garter of Sir George Carey, now Lord Hunsdon , the son of the founder of the Chamberlain's Men and himself now in the same office after Cobham's death. Where there is neither proof nor likelihood that A Midsummer Night's Dream was written for and performed at an aristocratic wedding, as is often suggested, Merry Wives , while also performed at The Theatre, was adapted to this specific occasion.

The company clearly would have wished to praise their patron and mark his high honour and their playwright used his latest play, capitalizing on the exceptional success of Falstaff in the Henry IV plays, to provide an appropriate tribute.

Plays could earn companies money and goodwill in more ways than through the box office. But the years and were also deeply affected by more domestic matters. On 11 August Hamnet Shakespeare was buried. It is too easy to assume that all expressions of grief in the plays thereafter were a reaction to his son's death, but something of Viola's passionate mourning for the apparent death of her twin brother in Twelfth Night could have been generated by the loss of Hamnet , Shakespeare's only male heir.

It is not too fanciful to see Shakespeare drawn as a result towards the subject matter of Hamlet , where son grieves for father rather than father for son.


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Two months later John Shakespeare was granted a coat of arms, about twenty-five years after he had first applied for them, but it was probably William who reactivated the application. It was an opportune moment, for the Garter king of arms, Sir William Dethick , was fairly unscrupulous about entitlement and hence was attacked later by the York herald for granting arms not to John Shakespeare but to ' Shakespear the Player'. But it more accurately identified John as an erstwhile bailiff in Stratford albeit getting the date of office wrong. Even allowing for some exaggeration the statement suggests either a remarkable turnaround in John Shakespeare's fortunes or, more probably, an indication of William's rapidly accumulating wealth, enough to make the player and playmaker wish to be able to sign himself as a gentleman.

The coat of arms, with gold and silver as its metals, was an expensive option if it was to be reproduced on the bearer's possessions. But the arms are surmounted by an arrogant falcon, punningly displayed shaking its angled spear which, with its silver tip, looks as much like a pen as a weapon.

The bird may also be an allusion to the four silver falcons in Southampton's coat of arms. The design and its motto, Non sancz droict 'Not without right' , were soon mocked by Jonson whose character Puntarvolo in Every Man out of his Humour Lord Chamberlain's Men , jeers at Sogliardo, the country clown, by suggesting he should have as his motto 'Not without mustard', an allusion both to Shakespeare's motto and to the yellow colour of his arms. In John Shakespeare made an application, probably never approved, to quarter the Arden arms with Shakespeare's and thereby cement the claim to gentility by association with a far more distinguished family.

But Dethick's actions were challenged: Brooke , the York herald, identified twenty-three wrongly awarded coats of arms and, though Shakespeare's claim was defended, Shakespeare might never have been confident that the grant of arms had been fair. Soon afterwards, Shakespeare took another step towards establishing his status and position. While he was in London his wife and children had probably continued to live in Henley Street with his parents; there is no sign that Anne ever moved to London to be with her husband there.

In May Shakespeare bought New Place, reputedly the second largest house in Stratford, with five gables, ten fireplaces, and a frontage of over 60 feet , together with two barns, two gardens, and two orchards. There may have been some rebuilding—a load of stone was sold to the town council in for 10 d.

Iconography

Shakespeare's store 10 quarters or about 80 bushels was about the average in the ward but, after three bad harvests, such hoarding was a serious action. In London, Quiney wrote a letter to Shakespeare , in which he is addressed as 'Loveinge Contreyman'; though probably never sent, it is the only surviving piece of correspondence with him. Clearly Shakespeare's finances were sufficient to establish him as a highly visible member of the Stratford community and one seeking to rise further as a local worthy, showing him to have been considered a Stratford resident: Sturley's plan to sell Shakespeare 'some od yardeland or other att Shottri or neare about us' was something that 'would advance him in deede' Chambers , 2.

Over subsequent years Shakespeare consolidated his position in Stratford and it was there, rather than in London, that he made his major investments, perhaps because property in Stratford was considered, mistakenly, to be less vulnerable to fire than in London. By comparison, it is not clear what sort of property Shakespeare lived in while in London at this time. Late in he was known to have been living in the parish of St Helen's, Bishopsgate, by having failed to pay various levies due at this time.

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The location was reasonably convenient for walking to The Theatre. He had moved away by and was now resident in the Clink parish in Surrey, in the Liberty, conveniently close to the site of the new Globe Theatre where the company was resident for the rest of his career, once it had rebuilt The Theatre on its new site south of the Thames when the lease expired on the land it had occupied.

None of this suggests much of a commitment to living in London by comparison with the sustained, substantial, and frequent investment in and around Stratford. But the move to be near the Globe Theatre marks a new stage in Shakespeare's professional career and it is an apt moment to take stock.


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  • He had become a widely known and admired playwright and poet. The Parnassus plays, performed by students of St John's College, Cambridge, at the Christmas celebrations between and , mock Gullio who speaks 'nothinge but pure Shakspeare , and shreds of poetrie that he hath gathered at the theators' and praises 'sweet Mr. Poets like Richard Barnfield , John Marston , Robert Tofte , and John Weever referred to Shakespeare's plays and poems in their own poems and epigrams published in and In , in Palladis tamia: Wits Treasury , Francis Meres praised Shakespeare fulsomely all Meres's praise is fulsome : 'As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latines: so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage', going on to list six comedies and six tragedies four of which would now be identified as histories as proof of Shakespeare's status F.

    Meres , Palladis tamia , fol. In March John Manningham , a barrister at the Middle Temple where Shakespeare's Twelfth Night had been performed the previous month, noted a bawdy story about Shakespeare and Burbage in his diary; whether true or not, the story of Shakespeare having sex with a woman who had wanted an assignation with Burbage whom she had fallen for as Richard III indicates that Shakespeare was a figure to be gossiped about, though Manningham had to remind himself of Shakespeare's first name.

    Sir George Buck , unsure who had written George a Greene , wrote on his copy that Shakespeare had told him it was by 'a minister who acted the pinners part in it himself' Nelson , 74 ; Shakespeare's information was probably wrong but Buck saw him as someone worth consulting on such matters. Finally, in this sequence of contacts, Shakespeare's success was sufficient to make one of his colleagues mock him: Jonson's Every Man out of his Humour has a number of satirical allusions to Shakespeare's recent plays as well as to his gentrified status.

    This amounts to more than a private dig at a friend: Jonson appears to have expected the audience to understand the barbs, yet another sign of Shakespeare's popularity. Shakespeare's plays were also starting to appear in print both in versions that give unauthorized and often inaccurate versions of the plays and in reasonably carefully prepared versions, the latter often in response to the former: for example the quarto of Romeo and Juliet published in , 'Newly corrected, augmented, and amended', in answer to the imperfections of the quarto.

    The suspect quartos often bear apparent traces of performance in their more elaborate stage directions. Some of these published editions of his plays now carried the author's name on their title-pages—for example, Love's Labour's Lost , the second quartos of Richard II and Richard III all published in , or the third quarto of 1 Henry IV in —another indication of Shakespeare's growing reputation and significance, since playwrights were not usually named on their plays in print.

    In the placing of Shakespeare's name on the title-page of The London Prodigal , a play certainly not by Shakespeare , is a further sign that his name was a good marketing ploy; the same presumably deliberate misattribution happened with the publication of Middleton's A Yorkshire Tragedy in though some have argued that the play is by Shakespeare. Similarly, in William Jaggard published the second edition of a collection of poems called The Passionate Pilgrim the date of the first edition is uncertain which the title-page also attributed to Shakespeare , much to Shakespeare's annoyance that Jaggard , as Thomas Heywood noted, 'altogether unknowne to him … presumed to make so bold with his name' Schoenbaum , Documentary Life , Very little of the collection was by Shakespeare but it included pirated and unattributed printings of three extracts from Love's Labour's Lost offered as poems and of two of Shakespeare's sonnets and Meres , Palladis tamia , fols.

    Whenever the sonnets were written, these two at least were by available in versions Jaggard could use. Having completed the second tetralogy in his history cycle, with the epilogue to Henry V gesturing to the earlier sequence 'Which oft our stage hath shown'; epilogue, l. He turned to Roman history, a field he had ignored since Titus Andronicus but a rich resource for political analysis of contemporary society.

    Julius Caesar was probably the first play the Chamberlain's Men performed at their new theatre, the Globe, where Thomas Platter , a Swiss traveller, saw it on 21 September Shakespeare's main source was North's Plutarch —perhaps he had now acquired a copy from Richard Field —and Shakespeare kept closer to his source than ever before, dramatizing Plutarch often simply by turning North's prose into verse. Roman historical tragedy may have been successful but Julius Caesar , like Titus , was not to be the start of a sequence, though Antony and Cleopatra would later take up the story.

    Something, perhaps the expertise of a particularly brilliant boy player, made the prospect of making this transformation especially central to a comedy clearly appealing.

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    For As You Like It , his principal source was Thomas Lodge's prose romance Rosalynde but, where Lodge's work is unequivocally placed in the forest of the Ardennes, Shakespeare's play is set ambiguously in France and in the Forest of Arden that had covered the centre of England and from which his mother's family derived its name. In this play Shakespeare also paid a small tribute to Marlowe as Phoebe remembers the words of the 'Dead shepherd': 'Who ever loved that loved not at first sight? Twelfth Night 's first recorded performance was at the Middle Temple; John Manningham noted its likeness to Plautus's Menaechmi and 'most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni ' Chambers , 2.

    In both plays Shakespeare made use of the talents of the Chamberlain's Men's latest recruit, Robert Armin , who replaced Will Kemp in ; Armin's skills as a singer are clear in Touchstone and Feste, the first signs of the line of fools that Shakespeare wrote for him, far more bitter than those for Kemp. Between the two comedies Shakespeare wrote Hamlet , rewriting the 'Hamlet' play that had been playing on the London stage by and may have been written by Thomas Kyd.

    Now lost and probably never printed, the earlier play and its own sources can be presumed to have provided a similar narrative but a simpler one.

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    Nothing in them would have been as complex or provocative as Shakespeare's creation of the prince whose thought processes have been so profoundly influential on Western literature.