Tag Archives: Shakespeare’s finances

Everything to declare – except my genius

‘not beneath him in fortunes, beyond him in the advantage of the time, above him in birth, alike conversant in general services, and more remarkable…’ Cymbeline 4.1. In Edgar Fripp’s introductions to the first four volumes of the Minutes and Accounts of the Corporation of Stratford-upon-Avon the reader grapples with the minutiae of the lives […]

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John Shakespeare Behind the Parapet

‘Cry ‘Courage! to the field!’ And thou hast talk’d Of sallies and retires, of trenches, tents, Of palisadoes, frontiers, parapets’ Henry IV Part 1, 2.3. A Tudor Statute of 1523 required commissioners to return nominal listings of all those taxed to the Exchequer. This followed a joint “muster” and fiscal assessment of the previous year. […]

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Some Elizabethan hedgehogs...

John Shakespeare, The Hedgehog

‘You spotted snakes with double tongue, Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen’ A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 2.2 Edgar Fripp (1861 – 1931) once described “Alderman [John] Shakespeare” as being “curled up like a hedgehog at the approach of the dog”. Fripp, seeing the world, as he did, through a lens of strict Protestant belief, thought John’s […]

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Richard 'Dick' Whittington

Shakespeare and the Pantomime Cat

“Could not you be contented, as well as others, with the legend of Whittington…” The Knight of the Burning Pestle, by Beaumont & Fletcher, 1613 The legend is that young Will Shakespeare, like a pantomime Dick Whittington, left his poverty-stricken family, walked to London and won his fortune entirely through his own efforts. I would […]

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A Sixteenth-century tapestry depicting a biblical scene

Shakespeare: God versus Money?

‘Why we must tear ourselves apart for this small question of religion?’ Cate Blanchett as Princess Elizabeth in the film Elizabeth The religious beliefs of William Shakespeare have preoccupied many writers. The mere possibility that he held to one branch or another seems to have an almost magnetic attraction for some who feel that claiming […]

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The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust portrait of William Shakespeare

How did Shakespeare make his money?

‘Shakespeare (whom you and every playhouse bill Style the divine! the matchless! what you will), For gain, not glory, wing’d his roving flight, And grew immortal in his own despite…’ Alexander Pope, 1737. Peter Thomson called ambiguity “a happy hunting ground for the critic” and ambiguity is still maintained by many around the life of […]

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