It is somewhat uncertain exactly when William Shagspere left for London but I suspect either the Earl of Warwick’s Men, who were transferred to the Earl of Oxford’s Men in 1580, or Lord Strange’s Men who played at Stratford on the 11th of February, 1579 were the means of his circuitous escape from parental responsibility and first taste of the theatrical world. When the acting troupe finally arrived back in London William Shagspere could easily have obtained some work as a stage hand and later as an extra on the stage along with his lodgings at Bishopsgate supplied by John Heminges.
It is commonly assumed by academics that “William Shakespeare” left the sleepy hamlet of Stratford-upon-Avon and arrived in London adequately primed intellectually and creatively to write several history plays and some early comedies. These include Henry VIth parts 1, 2 and 3, Richard the Third as well as A Comedy of Errors and The Taming of a Shrew. To do this he would have had to have read or possessed several important literary sources often quoted by academics for example:
Raphael Holinshed’s The Chronicles of England, Scotland and Ireland. (2nd ed., 1587). Samuel Daniel’s The Civil Wars between the Two Houses of Lancaster and York (1595-1609). He would also have read an anonymous work entitled The Famous Victories of Henry the Fifth (c. 1586). Other important sources would be William Baldwin’s edition of The Mirror for Magistrates (1559 ed.), John Stow’s (1525-c.1605) The Chronicles of England (1580), Edward Hall’s (1498-1547): The Union of the Two Noble and Illustre Families of Lancaster and York (3rd. ed., 1550), the seminal work by Robert Fabyan (?-1513): New Chronicles of England and France (1516) and Richard Grafton’s (c.1512-c.1572): A Chronicle at Large of History of the Affayres of England (1516) as well as John Hardyng’s The Chronicle of John Hardyng (1543) and to have read John Foxe’s, The Book of Martyrs (4th ed., 1583). He would also have been acquainted with Edmund Spenser’s (c.1552-99): The Faerie Queene (1590) – descriptions of the Sun at 2.1. To have been conversant with Arthur Brooke’s, The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet (English translation in 1562) – Queen Margaret’s speech at 5.4. Furthermore, he would have been familiar with Thomas Kyd’s, (1558-94) A Spanish Tragedy (1588-9) and Soliman and Perseda (1590). He might have come across an anonymous ballad: “A Merry Jest of a Shrewede and a Curste Wyfe” (printed 1550).
To write his first comedy he would of course have had access to the works of Plautus (c.254-184 BC); specifically Menaechmi (“The Twins”) performed 1592 with an English translation by William Warner, printed 1595) as well as Amphitryon (Latin version) and to have read George Gascoigne’s (1542-77) own play Supposes (performed 1566, and published in 1573, 1587). He would also need to have been familiar with the translation of Italian drama, I Suppositi (1509) or become acquainted with the influence of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte in purely dramatic terms. However, the Italian Commedia del ’Arte never performed in England although they toured other parts of Europe so how did William Shagspere, who had never travelled abroad become so well acquainted with its characters, style and themes unless of course he had secretly travelled to Italy? Furthermore, there is no evidence that the Shagspere family owned any books and this glaring disparity has been explained by Stratfordian academics with the supposition that either the theatre manager Richard Burbage or his fellow printer from Stratford, namely Richard Field had given him access to these books for the purpose of writing his plays. So, we are simply expected to believe that without any dramatic training or literary experience he produced those superlative works single-handedly and then arranged for them to be performed on the London stage. This apparent meteoric ascent from bucolic obscurity to literary genius in the space of five years is the only explanation that eminent biographers have been able to proffer to account for his being the author and playwright of Shakespeare’s work.
|The links to my publications “Shakespeare’s Qaballah”, a Companion to Shakespeare Studies and my anthology of poetry, “Parthenogenesis” are as follows:|