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It’s best to read: How Coleridge got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ right AND wrong!

….and: How John Dover Wilson got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ NEARLY right! (Part One)

and

How John Dover Wilson got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ NEARLY right! (Part Two)

and

Thomas Nashe was Shakespeare’s collaborator on ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’

FIRST!!!

In the eighteenth century, Samuel Johnson wrote:

I cannot reconcile my heart to Bertram; a man noble without generosity, and young without truth; who marries Helen as a coward, and leaves her as a profligate: when she is dead by his unkindness, sneaks home to a second marriage, is accused by a woman whom he has wronged, defends himself by falsehood, and is dismissed to happiness.

In the twentieth century, Arthur Quiller-Couch wrote :

We hold this play to be one of Shakespeare’s worst.

Even John Dover Wilson…..

…..the eminent Shakespearean who, in 1933, first suggested Shakespeare had been a teacher, factotum and entertainer for the Southampton family in Titchfield – wrote:

In the final scene it is hard to tell whether the verse or the sentiment it conveys is the more nauseating.

So is the play a failure?

It all depends on what Shakespeare was setting out to do….

Samuel Taylor Coleridge……

……the great poet and critic, was the first to suggest (in 1813) that…

All’s Well that Ends Well as it has come down to us, was written at two different and rather distant points of the poet’s life.

Coleridge thought that there were two distinct styles, not only of thought but of expression. This, The Shakespeare Code believes, also springs from the change in Shakespeare’s INTENTION from the first play to the second.

But what was this first play? And where and when was it performed?

The clue comes from a passage in Palladis Tamia, written by Francis Meres in 1598:

…..witness his  [Shakespeare’s]  Gentlemen of Verona, his Errors, his Love labors lost, his Love labors wonne, his Midsummers night dream, & his Merchant of Venice…

In All’s Well that Ends Well Helena says to Bertram:

Will you be mine, now you are doubly won?

…and the whole play rests on her heroic labours to make her husband love her.

It is The Code’s belief that Love’s Labour’s Won was the first version of All’s Well that Ends Well, that it was an answer to Love’s Labour’s Lost and, like that play, was performed in 1592 by a cast of professional actors and aristocrats (women as well as men) in private performance in Titchfield – to a commission from Mary Browne, Second Countess of Southampton.

See: ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ Revisited.

Love’s Labour’s Lost is a light hearted, satirical play in praise of heterosexual love.

But it does not resolve in marriage: the Princess of France’s father dies in the course of the action.

This is because Countess Mary’s father, Lord Montague….. 

…..and twin brother Anthony were both dying when the play was first performed at Whitsun.

A joyous ending to the play would have been totally inappropriate.

By December, though, both men were dead and it is highly probable from the title (though obviously we don’t have the text) that Love’s Labour’s Won was….

a Christmas comedy

…..that ended happily in love and marriage.

Given the bitterness of All’s Well that Ends Well, this may seem hard to believe: but Shakespeare’s source for the play – William Paynter’s translation of Boccaccio’s The Story of Giletta from his Decamerone – is a warm hearted romance, a fairy-story even….

‘Giletta’, who loves the ‘aimiable and fair’ Count Beltramo, [let’s call them Helena and Bertram from now on] is the rich and beautiful daughter of a celebrated Physician who has died.  Because Bertram is an aristocrat, he has to leave Rossillion and became the King’s Ward of Court.

Helena – who from childhood has loved him…..

 more than is meet for a woman of her age

 …..determines to follow him and win his hand in marriage.

She does this by curing the King’s fistula with one of her father’s prescriptions….

….and the help of God.

The King has promised her that she can have the husband of her choice if she succeeds in curing him, but is horrified when she chooses the aristocratic Count Bertram .

Bertram is also horrified at the thought of marrying a commoner , but obeys his King.

However, he rushes off to the wars without consummating the marriage and Countess Helena returns to Rossillion , which has fallen into disrepair because Bertram has been away.

She gains everyone’s respect by the way she restores Rossillion, then sends word to her husband that she is prepared to leave the city if her presence there means he will never return.

Bertram replies that he will only live with her when she has his ring – valued for its healing powers – in her possession and…..

 …a son in her arms begotten by me.

When she hears this, Helena leaves Rossillion so that he can return and, much to her subjects distress, sets off to become a Pilgrim.

By chance she encounters Bertram, from a distance, and learns he has fallen in love with another woman, respectable but poor.

Helena persuades the woman to gain Bertram’s ring as a token of his love, then, under cover of night, sleeps with her husband, posing as the woman he loves.  

God arranges it that Helena conceives and, when she knows she is pregnant, she and the woman, richly rewarded by Helena, leave the town .

Helena gives birth to twins and nurses them while Bertram, urged back by his subjects, returns to Rossillion.

One day he is about to celebrate the All Saints Festival when Helena arrives in her pilgrim’s clothes, with two sons, not one, in her arms and her husband’s ring.

Bertram is astonished at her ‘constant mind and good wit’, clothes her in a beautiful dress fit for a Countess and….

….kept great chere. From that time forth, hee loued and honoured her, as his dere spouse and wyfe.’

Bertram, in the Boccaccio story, is in a situation very similar to Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton (‘Harry Southampton’), the Countess Mary’s only son .

Harry, like Betram, had a father who had died and was a ward of court. He was eager, like Bertram, to go off to fight the wars and, also like Bertram, was being asked to wed against his will.

Lord Burghley, his guardian…….

…….wanted Harry to marry Elizabeth de Vere, his granddaughter…….

…..and was threatening to impose a tremendous £5,000 fine on the Southampton family.

But there was one major difference between Harry and the Bertram in the story:

Harry was gay!

Countess Mary had commissioned Shakespeare to write seventeen Sonnets for Harry’s seventeenth birthday in 1590, urging him to marry Elizabeth and father a son and heir.

See: Trixie the Cat’s guide to the Birthday Sonnets.

Mary had followed this up with another commission two years later – Love’s Labour’s Lost – in which a group of aristocratic men swear to give up the company of women to pursue their studies, but one by one succumb to their charms.

Shakespeare cast the dark-skinned musician and courtesan, Amelia Bassano – whom he had met and fallen in love with on the Queen’s Progress to Hampshire in 1591 – as the dark skinned coquette, Rosaline.

He cast himself as Berowne (a play on Countess Mary’s family name) as a Lord who attempts to seduce her…

After the show Amelia stayed on at Titchfield because the plague was raging in London and, as we know from Shakespeare’s Sonnets, art turned into life.

Harry was jealous of Amelia (he wanted to be the centre of Shakespeare’s attention) and when Shakespeare asked him to plead his love-suit with Amelia, Amelia swooped on Harry. Harry (despite himself) also swooped on Amelia.

A painful love-triangle ensued which ended in Amelia’s pregnancy and marriage to a minstrel ‘for colour’.  It also ended in Shakespeare’s own realisation he was more in love with the boy than he was with the girl.

But Shakespeare knew that, as an aristocrat, Harry had to get married and have a son. Shakespeare, after all, was married with children himself. So he was happy to pen Love’s Labour’s Won to please Countess Mary and celebrate the worth of women and the worth of marriage.

But why, in All’s Well that Ends Well, written fifteen years later, did Shakespeare turn Bertram/Harry into a psychopath – that is, someone displaying……

…….amoral and antisocial behaviour, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity and failure to learn from experience?

The King in the play even suspects Bertram of murder….

The answer to this question will follow shortly….

It’s best to read: How Coleridge got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ right AND wrong!

….and: How John Dover Wilson got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ NEARLY right! (Part One)

and

How John Dover Wilson got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ NEARLY right! (Part Two)

FIRST!!!

Thomas Nashe was Shakespeare’s Collaborator on ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’.

Brothers and Sisters of The Shakespeare Code….

In our last Post The Code announced that there were at least NINE words and phrases used in All’s Well that Ends Well that William Shakespeare never again used…..

…but which A.N.OTHER WRITER used once, twice and even three times in his other works….

The Code can now reveal that A. N. OTHER WRITER is none other than our old friend….

THOMAS NASHE!!!

…and the works by Nashe that the words and phrases appeared in were….

Linsey-woolsey

The Terrors of the Night

Have with you to Saffron Walden

The Praise of the Red Herring

Fore-horse

Pierce Pennilesse his Supplication to the Devil.

Four Letters Confuted

Custard

Pierce Pennilesse (Twice!)

Ames-ace

The Unfortunate Traveller

An Almond for a Parrott.

Jades’ tricks

The Unfortunate Traveller

Swine-drunk

Pierce Pennilesse.

Chape

A Counter-Cuffe given to Martin Iunior

Blazing star

Christ’s Tears over Jerusalem

The Devil drives

Pierce Pennilesse.

[Note: Any Brother or Sister of The Shakespeare Code who would like page and line references to the McKerrow edition of Nashe, please place a request in the comment box at the end of this Post and Trixie the Cat will contact you.]

It is The Code’s belief that Nashe was initially hostile to Shakespeare……

…..and mocked him in a series of pamphlets…..

……together with his collaboarator, Thomas Kyd….

…..because they were…..

Grammarians…

…i.e. Grammar School Boys….

….who had never gone to University and so couldn’t possibly be writers.

The Code argues that Shakespeare joined Lord Strange’s Men in the second half of the 1580s…..

…… and toured the Midlands as actor and writer….

…..but joined the Southampton family at the end of 1589 as tutor to the young Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton…..

…..and as ‘fac totum’ to the Earl’s mother, Mary Browne, 2nd Countess of Southampton…

See: Shakespeare in Titchfield.

Nashe was desperate for the Southampton patronage….

…(if you didn’t have money, you starved in the streets in Elizabeth’s England)….

….so he flattered Southampton….

….and attacked Shakespeare….

….but in the end collaborated with him.

Nashe was a satirist and stand-up comic who provided the jokes….

…..and many of the ideas……

….. in Shakespeare’s plays till he died in  1601.

Twelfth Night was his last collaboration in which he played Feste….

‘Ricky Sharpe’ as Feste and Karen Gledhill F.S.C. as Viola.

See: Feste the Clown as Thomas Nashe

The Code shall return to these ideas in more detail later….

But first we have to clear the air of….

fake news….

Step forward, Charles Nicholl…..

In his entry on Thomas Nashe in the new (ish) Oxford Dictionary of National Biography he states, correctly, that Pierce Penilesse is dedicated to Ferdinando Lord Strange…..

…..whom he refers to as…..

….thrice noble Amyntas….

…..the Code Name of Lord Strange.

Amyntas started life as a gay Pastoral Shepherd in Virgil’s Second Eclogue….

…..a boyfriend of the Pastoral Shepherd and Sugar Daddy, Menalcas, who sends him ten golden apples….

However, the Latin poet, Thomas Watson – a close friend of Christopher Marlowe – had re-invented Amyntas as a heterosexual Pastoral Shepherd…..

…..the lover of the very beautiful, but very dead, Phyllis…..

So by then ‘Amyntas’ was an appropriate Code Name for Lord Strange to use.

So far, so good. But Nicholl goes on to write…..

It was also for Lord Strange (‘Lord S’) that Nashe wrote the mildly obscene verses known as ‘The Choise of Valentines’ or ‘Nash his Dildo’, described by Gabriel Harvey in early 1593 as ‘thy unprinted packet of bawdye and filthy rimes’…..

There is NO CONCLUSIVE EVIDENCE WHATSOEVER that ‘Lord S.’ is Lord Strange……

And in The Code’s view it is highly unlikely…..

Here is the Wikipedia synopsis of Nashe’s poem….

As it is Valentine’s Day, Tomalin goes to seek his flame, Mistress Frances, where she lives in the country, but discovers that she has been driven away by the local authorities and now resides in a brothel in the city. He enters the brothel, posing as a customer, and is offered other women by its Madame, but it is his lover that Tomalin really wants to see, even though it will cost him more. Tomalin is shown to Mistress Frances’ room and is greeted with reciprocal passion, but before penetrating her he suffers from premature ejaculation due to his excitement. Mistress Frances lends Tomalin a helping hand to revive his erection, and the two have sex. During intercourse, she admonishes Tomalin to slow down and sets a rhythm more amenable to her own sexual gratification. Tomalin eventually climaxes, and his lover appears to climax as well, but soon expresses that she is not fully satisfied, and resorts to using a dildo. After a long description of the dildo, Tomalin pays for the services rendered and leaves the brothel, asking the readers, “Judge, gentlemen, if I deserue not thanks?”

By 1592/3 – when The Choise of Valentines was written – Lord Strange was in his thirties, had three daughters, had been a Member of Parliament, the Mayor of Liverpool and the Lord Lieutenant of Lancashire and Cheshire….

Nichol describes the poem as…

…mildly obscene….

…but it is, in fact, VERY obscene……

….so obscene it wasn’t published till the end of the nineteenth century!

Two samples….

(1) Tomalin, the ‘hero’ of the poem, unable to maintain an erection, says…..

I kisse, I clap, I feele, I view at will,
Yett dead he lyes, not thinking good or ill.
“Unhappie me,” quoth shee [Frances, Tomalin’s mistress and prostitute], “and wilt’ not stand?
Com, lett me rubb and chafe it with my hand!”

(2) Frances, giving up on Tomalin’s flaccid penis and resorting to a dildo, says….

Adieu! faint-hearted instrument of lust;
That falselie hath betrayde our equale trust.
Hence-forth no more will I implore thine ayde,
Or thee, or man of cowardize upbrayde.

My little dilldo shall suply their kinde:
A knaue, that moues as light as leaues by winde;
That bendeth not, nor fouldeth anie deale,
But stands as stiff as he were made of steele;

Would Nashe really have sent this scabrous poem to Lord Strange – soon to become the Fifth Earl of Derby?

It is true that, in one of his own poems, Strange compares his Mistress’s breasts to….

Two apples bright….

…but in the end he takes a highly moralistic line on love-making….

For love is but a short delight

A life that death doth urge:

A sea of tears, of noble wits

An ever-lasting scourge:

A glass for fools to look into

A labyrinth of smart

A deadly wound which pierceth through

The sinews of the heart….

Also, would the commoner, Nashe, seven years his junior, really have addressed the aristocratic Lord Strange as….

….my friend….

…as he does in the Epilogue to the poem?

It is The Code’s belief that the ‘Lord S’ of the poem’s dedication is Lord Southampton ….

Henry Wriothesley…..

….a.k.a. Harry….

He was twenty years old when the poem was written….

….an age when men are less offended by being described as a friend, especially by a ‘famous’ writer seven years older…..

…and when men are more likely to be interested in pornography….

Indeed, a few years later William Burton openly dedicated The Most Delectable History of Clitiphon and Leucippe – a piece of sadistic, bisexual pornography – to the Earl of Southampton.

Harry was sexually active when he was twenty….

….but as we learn from Shakespeare’s Sonnets, he was more interested in masturbation and young men than he was in young women.

This was a problem, as his guardian, Lord Burghley……

……wanted him to marry his grand-daughter, Elizabeth de Vere….

If he didn’t, the Southampton family would have to pay a gigantic £5,000 fine.

Mary Southampton had commissioned Shakespeare to write seventeen sonnets for Harry’s seventeenth birthday….

….to persuade him of the joys of heterosexual sex and marriage.

See: Trixie the Cat’s Guide to the Birthday Sonnets.

Burghley got his secretary, John Clapham, to write Narcissus for Harry….

……which also chronicles the pleasures of straight sex….

…..and warns – as Shakespeare’s Sonnets do – of the perils of self-love….

It is The Code’s belief that Nashe’s erotic poem was also a commission from Mary to ‘heterosexualise’ her son….

…as was Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander….

Marlowe’s Leander sounds very much like Harry….

……..beautiful and young,
(whose tragedy divine Musaeus sung,)
Dwelt at Abydos; since him dwelt there none
For whom succeeding times make greater moan.
His dangling tresses, that were never shorn,
Had they been cut, and unto Colchos borne,
Would have allured the vent’rous youth of Greece
To hazard more than for the golden fleece.

The poem describes Leander’s swimming the Hellespont and naked arrival at the tower of the lovely Hero…

……who puts up a token resistance then engages in a night of blissful lovemaking.

But the whole poem nearly takes a wrong turning:

Gay old Neptune……

…. mistakes Leander for Ganymede, Jove’s cup-bearer and catamite….

 

….and nearly drowns him in his attempts to make love to him!

Nashe begins Choice of Valentines with a Dedication….

Pardon, sweete flower of Matchles poetrie,

And fairest bud the red rose euer bare….

Shakespeare also refers to Harry in Sonnet 1 as…

….beauty’s Rose….

….and italicises the word Rose to isolate it and give it importance…..

He even refers to Southampton in Sonnet 109 as….

…my Rose….

…and every time he mentions ‘Rose’ in the Sonnets, he capitalises the ‘R’.

Shakespeare and Nashe were both equating Harry with the Roses of Southampton….

 

Nashe describes The Choice of Valentines as

…a wanton elegie….

..but urges Southampton to accept it….

…….in gentle gree,

And better lynes, ere long shall honor thee.

This is EXACTLY THE SAME PROMISE Shakespeare makes in his Dedication to Harry of Venus and Adonis….

…..another erotic commission from  Mary Southampton……

(who was still in  control of Harry’s purse-strings…)

The poem shows Venus’s desperate attempt to seduce Adonis….

….who prefers to be off with the boys on a homo-erotic boar-hunt….

He ends up ‘dead’ – literally dead and/or sexually satisfied……

……when even the boar finds him so attractive he tries to seduce him….

‘T is true, ‘t is true ; thus was Adonis slain :
He ran upon the boar with his sharp spear,
Who did not whet his teeth at him again,
But by a kiss thought to persuade him there ;
And nuzzling in his flank, the loving swine
Sheath’d unaware the tusk in his soft groin.

In his Dedication to the poem, Shakespeare writes…..

I KNOW not how I shall offend in dedicating my unpolished lines to your lordship, nor how the world will censure me for choosing so strong a prop to support so weak a burden only, if your honour seem but pleased, I account myself highly praised, and vow to take advantage of all idle hours, till I have honoured you with some graver labour. But if the first heir of my invention prove deformed, I shall be sorry it had so noble a god-father, and never after ear so barren a land, for fear it yield me still so bad a harvest. I leave it to your honourable survey, and your honour to your heart’s content; which I wish may always answer your own wish and the world’s hopeful expectation…

Shakespeare here denigrates what he has written – and promises to do better in the future.

If Southampton doesn’t like the verse, he will give up writing….

This is EXACTLY the sort of argument Nashe employs in the Epilogue to The Choice of Valentines.

Forgive me if I speake as I was taught,

A lyke to women, utter all I knowe,

As longing to unlade so bad a fraught.

My mynde once purg’d of such lasciuious witt,

With purifide words and hallowed verse,

Thy praises in large volumes shall rehearce,

That better maie thy grauer view befitt.

Meanewhile yett rests, you smile at what I write;

Or, for attempting, banish me your sight.

The ‘graver labour’ that Shakespeare produced was the more philosophical…..

….if sexually violent…

Lucrece…

Titian’s ‘Rape of Lucrece’ which The Shakespeare Code believes inspired Shakespeare’s poem. The use of colours is identical.

The work Nashe produced for Harry’s ‘graver view’ was, The Code believes, The Unfortunate Traveller….

…..based on the experiences Nashe, Harry and Shakespeare had on their visit to Europe in 1593….

(See: Shakespeare in Italy)

….and which is UNEQUIVOCALLY dedicated to Harry…

To the right Honorable Lord Henrie Wriothsley,
Earle of South-hampton and Baron
of Tichfeeld.

Ingenuous honorable Lord, I know not what blinde custome methodicall antiquity hath thrust vpon vs, to dedicate such books as we publish to one great man or other ; In which respect, least anie man should challenge these my papers as goods vncustomd, and so extend vppon them as forfeite to contempt, to the seale of your excellent censure loe here I present them to bee seene and allowed. Prize them as high or as low as you list: if you set anie price on them, I hold my labor well satisfide. Long haue I desired to approoue my wit vnto you….

And so it gushes on….

But the key phrase is when Nashe addresses Harry directly ….

….a dear lover and cherisher you are, as well of the lovers of Poets, as of Poets themselves….

The Shakespeare Code is of the firm conviction that that this is a reference to the complex love-triangle that was played out in Titchfield in 1592/3….

A love-triangle which is described in detail in Shakespeare’s Sonnets….

Shakespeare fell in love with the courtesan, musician and mistress of old Lord Hunsdon – Amelia Bassano – when she visited Cowdray as part of the Queen’s Progress in 1591….

The plague was rampant in London, so she stayed on at Titchfield to entertain Mary Southampton…

…and Shakespeare wrote entertainments for the family group in which Amelia – and women from the aristocratic classes – took part.

Harry was jealous of Shakespeare’s infatuation with Amelia……

….he wanted his tutor for himself.

So when Shakespeare asked Harry to plead his love-suit with Amelia, Harry allowed himself to be seduced by the ambitious Dark Lady….

….who preferred a handsome young aristocrat, however gay, to a balding, prematurely aging playwright….

Shakespeare was forced to admit to himself that he was more in love Harry than he was with Amelia…

And when Amelia fell pregnant Shakespeare and Harry began a passionate affair that lasted fifteen years….

Nashe, then, is referring to these painful events when he describes Harry as being a lover both of Shakespeare and Shakespeare’s mistress….

This Dedication was clearly too much for Harry.  It was was removed from all subsequent editions of the book…..

To find out why Shakespeare wrote All’s Well that Ends Well please click: HERE!

 

 

 

[Note: It’s best to read: How Coleridge got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ right AND wrong!

….and: How John Dover Wilson got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ NEARLY right! (Part One) first.]

AN ADVANCE WARNING FROM TRIXIE THE CAT!!!

Trixie

The following Post, by Code Chief Agent, Stewart Trotter……

Stewart Trotter as The Chorus in 'The Making of a King' - his compilation of Henry IV parts One and Two and Henry V.

Stewart Trotter as The Chorus in ‘The Making of a King’ – his compilation of Henry IV parts One and Two and Henry V.

Click HERE to read the script.

…….is……(how shall I put it?)

…….a tad scholarly….

……BUT it IS short…….

……and Your Cat will liven it up with Osbert Lancaster’s designs for the 1953 Old Vic production of the play…..

Here, for a start, is his backcloth of Florence….

florence-osbert

Yes! They had backcloths in those grim Post War days to cheer everyone up!

Now over to Stewart…..

‘Bye now!

Paw-Print smallest

Thanks a lot for that – Trixie the Cat!!!

Brothers and Sisters of The Shakespeare Code……

There are at least…..

….NINE WORDS AND PHRASES….

…… which are used in All’s Well that Ends Well ….

……WHICH DO NOT APPEAR IN ANY OTHER PLAY OR POEM BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE!!!

However, they DO appear ONCE, TWICE and even THREE times…..

….. in the works of A. N. OTHER WRITER…..

FIRST WORD: ‘linsey-wolsey’

In All’s Well that Ends Well, The Second Lord…….

French Lords - designs by Osbert Lancaster.

French Lords – designs by Osbert Lancaster.

….. says to the other Lords:

But what linsey-woolsey hast thou to speak to us again?

( ‘linsey-woolsey’ is a mixture of flax and wool)

Shakespeare NEVER uses ‘linsey-wolsey’ anywhere else…..

…..but A. N. OTHER WRITER uses it THREE TIMES!!!

Example 1.

A man that will entertain them must not pollute his body with any gross carnal copulation or inordinate beastly desires, but love pure beauty, pure virtue, and not have his affections linsey-wolsey, intermingled with lust and things worthy of liking.

Example 2.

Neither are these parts severally distinguished in his order of handling, but like a Dutch stewed-pot, jumbled together, jumbled together and linsey-wolsey woven one within another.

Example 3.

I had as lieve have no sun, as have it shine faintly, no fire as a smothering fire of small coals, no clothes, rather than wear linsey-wolsey.

SECOND WORD: ‘custard’

In All’s Well that Ends Well, the grizzled old truth-speaking courtier, Lafeu, insults the corrupt captain Parolles…..

Parolles - design by Osbert Lancaster.

Parolles – design by Osbert Lancaster.

……by saying to him:

You have made shift to run into ‘t, boots and spurs
and all, like him that leaped into the custard.

Shakespeare NEVER uses ‘custard’ anywhere else….

But A. N. OTHER WRITER uses it THREE TIMES!!

Example 1:

…..to provide him of strange birds, China mustard and odd patterns to make custards by…

Example 2:

She might have piled off the scale like the skin of a custard….

Example 3:

…..the houses here are not such flat custard crowns at the top as they are.

THIRD WORD: ‘fore-horse’

In All’s Well that Ends Well,  the ‘doughy youth’ Bertram…….

Bertram - designs NOT by Osbert Lancaster.

Bertram – designs NOT by Osbert Lancaster.

……frustrated that he is too young to go to war…….

…..says to his captain, Parolles, and the courtiers at the French court:

I shall stay here the fore-horse to a smock

Creaking my shoes on the plain masonry

Till honour be bought up and no sword won

But one to dance with! By heaven I’ll steal away…

( ‘Forehorse’ is the leading horse of a team).

Shakespeare NEVER uses ‘fore-horse’ anywhere else…..

…..but A. N. OTHER WRITER uses it TWICE!!!

Example 1:

….and wear a feather of her rain-beaten face for a fore-horse.

Example 2:

…but in verity did nothing else but gather a flaunting, unsavoury fore-horse nosegay out of his well-furnished garland.

FOURTH WORD: ‘ames-ace’

In All’s Well that Ends Well, the apothecary’s daughter, Helena…..

Helena - design by Osbert Lancaster.

Helena – design by Osbert Lancaster.

……cures a life-threatening fistula on the King of France…..

King of France and his entourage. Design by Osbert Lancaster.

King of France and his entourage. Design by Osbert Lancaster.

As a reward she has asked the King to give her the courtier of her choice to be her husband…..

….and the Old Courtier Lafeu says….

I had rather be in this choice than throw ames-ace
for my life.

(Ames-ace was the lowest possible throw at dice.)

Shakespeare NEVER uses ‘ames-ace’ anywhere else….

..but A. N. OTHER WRITER uses it TWICE!!!

Example 1:

But as you love good-fellowship and ames ace

Example 2:

Have at you for ames ace and the dice.

FIFTH PHRASE: ‘jades’ tricks’

In All’s Well that Ends Well,  Lavache, the ‘shrewd and unhappy’ Clown…..

 

Lavache the Clown - design by Osbert Lancaster.

Lavache the Clown – design by Osbert Lancaster.

…..says to Lafeu:

If I put any tricks upon ’em, [horses] sir, they shall be
jades’ tricks..

Shakespeare NEVER uses the phrase jades’ tricks’ anywhere else….

But A. N. OTHER WRITER does ONCE!:

….jades’ tricks which are their own right by the law of nature.

SIXTH PHRASE: ‘swine-drunk’

In All’s Well that Ends Well, the treacherous Parolles says of his master, Bertram:

…he will lie, sir, with such volubility, that you would think truth were a fool: drunkenness is his best virtue, for he will be swine-drunk

Shakespeare NEVER uses the phrase ‘swine-drunk’ anywhere else…

But A. N. OTHER WRITER does ONCE!!!:

The third is swine-drunk, heavy, lumpish and sleepy

SEVENTH PHRASE: ‘blazing star’

In All’s Well that Ends Well, Lavache says to the old Countess:

An we might have a good woman born but one every blazing star, or at an earthquake, t’would mend the lottery well.

Shakespeare NEVER uses the phrase ‘blazing star’ again…

But A. N. OTHER WRITER does ONCE!:

The blazing star, the earthquake, the dearth and famine some few years since, may nothing affright us.

EIGHTH WORD: ‘chape’

In All’s Well that Ends Well, the First Lord says to Bertram:

You’re deceived, my lord: this is Monsieur Parolles, the gallant militarist, that was his own phrase, that had the whole theoric of war in the knot of his scarf, and the practise in the chape of his dagger.

( ‘Chape’ = the tip of a scabbard)

Shakespeare NEVER uses the word ‘chape’ anywhere else…

But A. N. OTHER WRITER does ONCE!!!:

A swapping ale-dagger at his back, containing by estimation some two or three pounds of iron in the hilts and chape

NINTH PHRASE: ‘the Devil drives’

In All’s Well that Ends Well, Lavache banters with the old Countess:

My poor body, madam, requires it: I am driven on by the flesh; and he must needs go that the Devil drives.

Shakespeare NEVER uses the idea that the Devil is a driver anywhere else.

But A.N. OTHER WRITER does ONCE!!!:

Fie, fie, the Devil a driver in Westminster Hall? It can never be.

So who exactly is this  A.N. OTHER WRITER?……

A writer who seems more ‘Shakespearean’ than Shakespeare himself….?

To find out, click: HERE!

 

 

 

 


 

 

[Note: It’s best to read How Coleridge got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ right AND wrong first.]

A Trixie Special.

Trixie

Brothers and Sisters of The Shakespeare Code….

Why ARE academics so vicious when they argue with each other?

Is it really because……

……as Your Cat was once told by Adolf Wood….

….an editor of the Times Literary Supplement  –

adolf-wood

 

……the stakes are so small?

The financial stakes in Academe certainly are!

But, for whatever reason, five years ago the columns of the mighty T.L.S…..

t-l-s-logo

…..shook to…..

THE WARS OF THE ENGLISH PROFESSORS!!!

(and their Seconds…)

The Background was this:

The great Shakespearean scholar and editor, John Dover Wilson…

dover wilson

…..believed that William Shakespeare worked with a collaborator on All’s Well that Ends Well.

He stated this in his edition of the play (with Arthur Quiller-Couch) for the Cambridge University Press in 1929:

To sum up, the editing of this play leaves us with the strong impression that the Folio text is the product of a Jacobean revision (c. 1605) of an Elizabethan play perhaps by Shakespeare but if so probably containing pre-Shakespearean elements, and that this revision was undertaken by Shakespeare and a collaborator, the bulk of the work devolving upon the latter who was indeed left to carry out the final shaping of the play and to finish off many scenes begun by his great fellow-worker.

Dover Wilson repeated this idea three years later in his ground-breaking book The Essential Shakespeare:

essential-shakespeare

And neither All’s Well nor Measure for Measure, I am convinced, is wholly Shakespeare’s; even for this kind of comedy he had no inclination, and left a torso for Wilkins or some other hack to provide with arms and legs.

Nearly five years ago Laurie Maguire (Professor of English at Oxford University)……

laurie-maguire

……and her colleague Emma Smith (an Oxford English Faculty teacher)…..

emma-smith

……named Thomas Middleton as Shakespeare’s collaborator……

thomas-middleton

……in an article in the T.L.S. (20th April, 2012)

They acknowledged that Dover Wilson had arrived at the idea first:

We have been anticipated by only one previous critic, John Dover Wilson….

….and quoted his belief that the play had been produced by….

A process of expansion by some inferior dramatist

…..who….

…..had a passion for sententious couplets and a mind running on sexual disease.

This article ignited the wrath of computer whizz…

Prof. Brian Vickers……

vickers, prof. brian

….Emeritus Professor at ETH Zurich….

….and HIS colleague, Marcus Dahl ….

marcus-dahl

…of the Institute of English Studies….

(Academics, it seems, go round in pairs these days…..

…..probably for protection from other Academics..…)

In the Commentary Section of the T.L.S.  for 11th May (2012)…..

…..Vickers and Dahl rubbished not only the work of Maguire and Smith

…..BUT OF DOVER WILSON HIMSELF!!!…

They had the cheek to describe him as….

The Great Disintegrator

…as though he were something out of Star Wars

darth-vader

They warned the Oxford Girls that to follow Dover Wilson’s path…

…..so many years after his methods have been discredited is to risk a similar fate….

And concluded boldly:

There is absolutely no evidence for another hand in this play….

[Sir Brian Vickers, author of the much-mocked The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose, has form……

He recently engaged in an unknightly punch-up in the T.L.S. with fellow octogenarian Sir Stanley Wells…

stanley wells 2

…..on Shakespeare’s Sonnets….

Sir Brian argued, preposterously in The Code’s view, that they were fictional.

Sir Stanley argued, correctly in The Code’s view, that Shakespeare’s Sonnets were about real people……]

Maguire and Evans hand-bagged back….

…in a letter to the T.L.S. on 8th June, 2012….

They derided Vickers and Dahl as….

Flat Earthers….

…..and….

Canutes trying to stem the oncoming tide…

canute and waves

They defended Dover Wilson…..

…..who frankly needs no defending by Maguire and Evans….

…..and who could eat Vickers and Dahl for breakfast –

……by writing that….

…..he [Dover Wilson] got some things spectacularly right.

The Code believes that Dover Wilson was not ‘spectacularly right’ on this occasion  ….

He was, NEARLY right….

Shakespeare DID work with another collaborator on All’s Well that Ends Well…

But in ENTIRELY DIFFERENT CIRCUMSTANCES…

I’ll leave it to our Chief Agent, Stewart Trotter…..

…..who himself once worked on the T.L.S……

….. to explain this in the next, dazzling, Shakespeare Code Post…..

‘Bye now!

Paw-Print smallest

[It’s best now to read: How John Dover Wilson got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ NEARLY right. (Part Two).]

 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge….

coleridge

……was a brilliant poet and a brilliant critic…..

The Shakespeare Code will demonstrate in future posts that he was correct about All’s Well that Ends Well when, in lectures given in 1813 and 1818, he said that…..

[the play] as it has come down to us, was written at two different and rather distant points of the poet’s life.

……and pointed out there were….

…..very clearly two distinct styles, not only of thought but of expression…..

HOWEVER…..

…..this Post will demonstrate that….

COLERIDGE WAS WRONG ON ONE VITAL DETAIL!!!

To elaborate….

In the play, Helena……

….the daughter of an accomplished apothecary who has recently died….

helena-alls-well

…..is in love with Bertram, Count of Rossillion……

bertram-alls-well

 

…..a nobleman way above her in social class.

However, using the skills her father taught her, Helena manages to cure the King of France of his fistula…..

helena-cures-king

…..and as a reward he grants her request that Bertram should be her husband.

jhelena-given-bertram

But Bertram doesn’t want to know!

bertram-doesnt-want-to-know

He flees the court before the marriage is consummated…..

…and Helena, disguised as a Pilgrim……

helena-disguised-as-a-pilgrim

….chases after him to Florence……

She meets a Widow and her daughter Diana……

….waiting to see the army march past……

…..with Bertram in its ranks…..

helena-meets-widow

WIDOW

Here you shall see a countryman of yours

That has done worthy service.

HELENA

His name, I pray you.

DIANA

The Count Rousillon: know you such a one?

HELENA

But by the ear, that hears most nobly of him:

His face I know not.

Helena DOES of course know her husband’s face…..

But she has to keep up the pretence that she is not married to him.

Coleridge was ‘in love’ with the character of Helena….

….and this lie disturbs him.

As he writes in his Lectures on Shakespeare….

Shall we say here that Shakespeare has unnecessarily made his loveliest character utter a lie? Or shall we dare think that where to deceive was necessary, he thought a pretended verbal verity a double crime, equally with the other a lie to the hearer, and at the same time a lie to one’s own conscience?

THE CODE BELIEVES THAT HELENA WAS NOT LYING AT ALL!!!

Well, at worst ‘equivocating’….

To explain why we must first look at Shakespeare’s Sonnet 7.

This was written in a sequence of seventeen sonnets…..

…..commissioned by Mary Browne, Second Countess of Southampton….

Mary Browne

……for the seventeenth birthday of her son, Henry Wriothesley….

tomb henry wriothesley

……aka ‘Harry Southampton’….

……to persuade him to marry Elizabeth de Vere…..

lady elizabeth de vere

…..the grand-daughter of his guardian, Lord Burghley….

burghley gerard (2)

See: Trixie the Cat’s Guide to the Birthday Sonnets.

The trouble was that Harry was only interested in sex with other young men….

……often lower class…..

……or in masturbating alone.

Sonnet 7 predicts what will happen to Harry if he continues with this life-style….

The Code believes there is an ‘ostensible’ meaning to this Sonnet – and a ‘coded’ one.

First, the ostensible meaning……

Sonnet 7

Lo in the Orient when the gracious light,

Lifts up his burning head, each under eye

Doth homage to his new appearing sight,

Serving with looks his sacred majesty….

Ostensible Meaning:

When the flaming sun rises in the east, everyone worships it like a king by turning to look at it….

And having climb’d the steep up heavenly hill,

Resembling strong youth in his middle age,

Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,

Attending on his golden pilgrimage:

Ostensible Meaning:

When the sun climbs to the midpoint in the sky – looking young and lusty even though he is at the midpoint of his journey – he still has worshippers who admire and follow him like a king….

But when from high-most pitch with weary car,

Like feeble age he reeleth from the day,

The eyes (fore duteous) now converted are

From his low tract and look an other way:

Ostensible Meaning:

But when from this exalted position he starts to decline like an old man, no one looks at him any more and all turn their eyes away to gaze at something else…

So thou, thy self out-going in thy noon:

Unlook’d, on diest unless thou get a son.

Ostensible Meaning:

In the same way when you start to lose strength in the twilight of your life people will neglect you and ignore your death unless you have borne a son….

Shakespeare is issuing the same warning to Harry that others were issuing to Queen Elizabeth….

Queen Elizabeth.

Because you have no son, courtiers will shun you as you approach death…..

…..and spend their time cultivating the new monarch…..

This is indeed what happened.

The court cold-shouldered the dying Queen while they were paying court to the new monarch-in-waiting, James VI of Scotland….

james-illustration

At Christmas, 1602,  Queen Elizabeth’s godson, Sir John Harington…..

NPG 3121,Sir John Harington,attributed to Hieronimo Custodis

…..sent to James the gift of a dark lantern with the sun and moon and the stars….

…..and told James he was the new sun rising up.

William Camden – the contemporary historian – 

camden, william

….suggests that the Queen’s final melancholy might partly have been the result of rumours she had heard….

…..and the direct report of King Henri IV of France…..

henri-iv-in-armour-woodcut

…that…

…..many of the nobility did by underhand letters and messengers seek to curry favour with the king of Scots, that they adored him as the rising sun, and neglected her as now being ready to set.

Shakespeare, in Sonnet 7, is doubtless having his own dig at Elizabeth.

His Roman Catholic family had been persecuted by Elizabeth’s henchmen…

….as had the family of his Catholic patron, Mary Countess of Southampton.

He has another dig at Elizabeth in Sonnet 11:

Herein [parenthood] lives wisdom, beauty, and increase,

Without this folly, age, and cold decay:

If all were minded so, the times should cease

And threescore year would make the world away:

Let those whom nature hath not made for store,

Harsh, featureless, and rude, barrenly perish,

Look whom she best endow’d, she gave the more;

Which bounteous gift thou shouldst in bounty cherish.

Shakespeare is here obliquely referring to the Queen’s barreness and ugliness…..

She was also hurtling towards…..

…..three-score year…….

…..when the Birthday Sonnets were written in 1590.

But the second, CODED meaning to Sonnet 7 – as we shall see – throws complete light onto Helena’s line….

His face I know not

Shakespeare’s sonnets make continual reference to Harry’s masturbation.

In his very first sonnet Shakespeare writes:

But thou [Harry] contracted to thine own bright eyes,

Feed’st thy light’s flame with self substantial fuel,

Making a famine where abundance lies,

Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:

Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,

And only herald to the gaudy spring,

Within thine own bud buriest thy content,

And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding…

The……

self-substantial fuel…..

……is a reference to the seminal fluid that Harry produces when he masturbates…..

…..semen that he won’t share with a woman and consequently creates….

…a famine where abundance lies…

The ‘bud’ where Harry ‘buries’ his ‘content’ is clearly a reference to Harry’s penis.

Reference to masturbation is made even more obvious in Sonnet 4….

Unthrifty loveliness, why dost thou spend,

Upon thy self thy beauty’s legacy?

Nature’s bequest gives nothing but doth lend,

And being frank she lends to those are free:

Then beauteous niggard, why dost thou abuse,

The bounteous largesse given thee to give?

Profitless usurer [money-lender]why dost thou use

So great a sum of sums yet can’st not live?

Shakespeare often uses money as an image for semen…..

…..so ‘spending’ here clearly implies seminal emission.

The ‘bounteous largesse given thee to give’ is a bantering reference to Harry’s massive sex drive……

…… and the size of his penis itself….

‘So great a sum of sums’ is a witty reference to the frequency of Harry’s ‘self-abuse’….

So when Shakespeare refers to Harry being ‘contracted’ to his own ‘bright eyes’ in Sonnet 1, ‘eyes’ can have a sexual connotation as well…

Eyes are round and there are two of them……

…..just like testicles…

So, with all this in mind, The Code will now reveal the coded meaning of Sonnet 7…..

Lo in the Orient when the gracious light,

Lifts up his burning head, each under eye

Doth homage to his new appearing sight,

Serving with looks his sacred majesty….

Coded Meaning:

At dawn, when you a have a morning erection and your penis rises, each of your testicles is drawn up around its shaft…

And having climb’d the steep up heavenly hill,

Resembling strong youth in his middle age,

Yet mortal looks adore his beauty still,

Attending on his golden pilgrimage:

Coded Meaning:

When your powerful throbbing penis has climbed the mons Veneris and stands erect, your testicles are still drawn up with it.

But when from high-most pitch with weary car,

Like feeble age he reeleth from the day,

The eyes (fore duteous) now converted are

From his low tract and look an other way:

Coded Meaning:

But when, after seminal emission, the penis grows flaccid again, the testicles swing loose from it.

So thou, thy self out-going in thy noon:

Unlook’d, on diest unless thou get a son.

Coded Meaning

So when you come by yourself – when your penis is erect like the hands of a clock at noon – there will be no-one there to share the sex act with you…

‘To die’ often meant to come in Elizabethan and Jacobean times.

Leontes in The Winter’s Tale,  in a fit of sexual jealousy of his wife Hermione, describes her and her supposed lover Polixenes as…

paddling palms and pinching fingers

…and sighing

as ’twere
The mort o’ the deer…..

And the Princess of France in Love’s Labour’s Lost, when she prepares to go hunting…..

loves deer hunt old photo

….talks about spilling ‘the poor deer’s [dear’s] blood’ in a sexually ambiguous way…

See: The Princess of France IS Queen Elizabeth.

This ambiguity fills Shakespeare’s work…..

All the features of the face – the eyes, the beard, the nose – can have sexual connotations….

‘The eyes’ as we have seen can be the testicles…..

…as they are in Sonnet 56, written after Shakespeare and Harry have satiated themselves sexually.

Shakespeare invites Harry to pause and recover his potency…..

Otherwise people will say that his appetite for food is stronger than his appetite for sex....

Sweet love, renew thy force: be it not said

Thy edge should blunter be than appetite,

Which but to-day by feeding is allay’d,

To-morrow sharpen’d in his former might.

So love be thou: although to-day thou fill

Thy hungry eyes even till they wink with fulness,

To-morrow see again, and do not kill

The spirit of Love with a perpetual dullness…

‘Perpetual dullness’ = ‘long-lasting lack of sex drive.’

‘Eye’ singular can also be the penis itself……

…..as it is in Love’s Labour’s Lost when Boyet – the gay old gossip – describes the King of Navarre’s erection on seeing the beautiful Princess of France…

Why, all his [Navarre’s] behaviours did make their retire

To the court of his eye, peeping thorough desire:

His heart, like an agate, with your print impress’d,

Proud [erect] with his form, in his eye pride [sexual drive] express’d:

Methought all his senses were lock’d in his eye,

As jewels in crystal for some prince to buy;

Who, tendering their own worth from where they were glass’d,

Did point you to buy them, along as you pass’d:

There is even a bawdy implication in Shakespeare’s first meeting with the young Harry in Sonnet 104:

To me fair friend you never can be old,

For as you were when first your eye I eyde,

Such seems your beauty still….

‘Beards’ can be the pubic hair of both men and women….

In Twelfth Night Feste says to Viola – who is in disguise as a boy –

Ricky Sharpe as Feste and Karen Gledhill as Viola/Caesario in Stewart Trotter's production of 'Twelfth Night' at the Northcott Theatre.

Ricky Sharpe as Feste and Karen Gledhill as Viola/Caesario in Stewart Trotter’s production of ‘Twelfth Night’ at the Northcott Theatre.

Now Jove, in his next commodity of hair, send thee a beard!

And Viola/Caesario, who is in love with Count Orsino, replies:

By my troth, I’ll tell thee, I am almost sick for
one: though I would not have it grow on my chin.

In All’s Well that Ends Well old Lafeu makes a direct comparison with the nose and the penis of Parolles….

Why dost thou garter up thy arms o’ this fashion? dost make hose of sleeves? do other servants so? Thou wert best set thy lower part where thy nose stands..

And indeed, the word ‘face’ itself can represent the genital area…..

….as it does in King Lear when the demented King says:

Stewart Trotter playing King Lear at Titchfield.

Stewart Trotter playing King Lear at Titchfield.

Behold yond simpering dame,
Whose face between her forks [legs] presages snow;
That minces virtue, and does shake the head
To hear of pleasure’s name….

And in Sonnet 3 – when Shakespeare exhorts Harry to look in his mirror…

Look in thy glass, and tell the face thou viewest

The face that Harry sees is both his ‘ostensible’ one….

…AND his ‘coded’ one….

Now is the time that face should form another….

It’s the genitals that reproduce, not the literal face! 

Shakespeare is imagining Harry standing naked in front of his looking glass….

[Pauline Kiernan in her excellent book Filthy Shakespeare (2006) even argues that ‘face’ can mean ‘arse’ as well (her word!) ‘punning on the French fesses, buttocks.]

So, when Helena in All’s Well that Ends Well claims….

His [Betram’s] face I know not….

Coleridge can relax…..

She is not lying as such….

She has not been to bed with her husband so hasn’t ‘known’ his genital area.

She is equivocating…..

….as she has to do many times in the play to get her man.

helena-gets-her-man

As a Roman Catholic, Shakespeare would have identified with her completely.

Catholics under Queen Elizabeth became expert at saying one thing but meaning another….

…. so that their souls would not be harmed by a lie…

But there were other reasons that Shakespeare empathised with Helena…..

These  we shall explore in subsequent posts….

(It’s best now to read: How John Dover Wilson got ‘All’s Well that Ends Well’ NEARLY right.)

dover wilson

 

AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM TRIXIE THE CAT!!!

Trixie

Brothers and Sisters of The Shakespeare Code…..

We are thrilled – and humbled – to announce that on at Sunset on Wednesday, 1st February, 2017…..

The Code  received its…..

250,000th View!

Everything began back in 2002 with the publication of Stewart Trotter’s game-changing book….

book cover

…which was made in the same year into a dazzling television documentary  for Meridian  by Carol White….

(Carol was later to direct an item on Stewart’s theories for BBC TV’s The One Show)

Stewart has been fascinated by Love’s Labour’s Lost since he played Berowne as a teenager in the grounds of a garden at Thaxted in Essex.

He then directed the play in Clare Gardens, Cambridge, when he was an undergraduate…..

clare-gardens

….and then professionally in the Northcott Theatre in Exeter in 1982 where he was Artistic Director from 1980-85.

northcott-theatre

He became convinced that Shakespeare was writing about a ‘real’ place – and took his daughter Amy on a picnic to the ruins of Titchfield Abbey. 

There he was astonished to find himself on the ‘set’ of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Here were the remains of…..

the curious knotted garden

…..mentioned in the play and

the steep uprising of the hill

Later  in the London Library he was to find a reference (in the Victoria County History for Hampshire)  to…

the place where….

(Place House)

place house 2

…..and…

…..the park….

……in a copy of an old map of the area…..

A 1610 Map of Titchfield, showing the 'The Place' and 'The Parke' - both mentioned in 'Love's Labour's Lost'.

See: How these articles came to be written.

He and Amy took an old friend from Cambridge, Prof. Andrew Saunders of Durham University……

andrew-sanders

……on another picnic trip to Titchfield on Whitmonday, 2000 –

……and explained his whole theory on the way down on the train.

He showed Andrew the Old Schoolhouse….

old schoolhouse

…..also mentioned in the play as….

……the Charge House…..

(The school doubled as a toll house – and has the remains of a secure room)

….and as they were leaving it Andrew offered Stewart the direct challenge….

Prove it!

Love’s Labour’s Found was the result.

In the book Stewart argued that Love’s Labour’s Lost was first performed in the grounds of Titchfield Abbey in 1592……

titchfield-abbey-place-house-16thcentury

 …….by a mixed cast of professional actors and aristocrats….

INCLUDING WOMEN!!!

(It was quite usual for Elizabethan women to perform in private entertainments.)

Stewart believes the play is a ‘romantic satire’ on Queen Elizabeth’s Progress to Cowdray and Titchfield the previous year……

…. when she had shot rounded up deer from specially erected ‘standings’….

princess 4

(In reality, the Queen used a cross-bow.)

The play was written to a commission from Mary, Second Countess of Southampton……

Mary Browne

……to encourage her gay teenage son, Henry Wriothesley (aka ‘Harry Southampton’)

tomb henry wriothesley

….. to fall in love and marry a woman.

See:

‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ Revisited

and

Why did Shakespeare write ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’?

Melvyn Bragg wrote of Love’s Labour’s Found…. 

melvyn bragg

What great ideas! Wonderfully interesting! Intriguing! Watch out Stratford-upon-Avon!

Greg Doran wrote….

greg-doran

The book is exquisite. Thank you.

Nicholas Hytner wrote….

Nicholas-Hytner--001

Your theory is fascinating and seductive. It rings of truth. I never understand those who say they are uninterested in Shakespeare’s life; the creation of life for the writer of the plays seems an emotional necessity to me. Yours moves me and convinces me. I hope you have a huge success.

…..and Jane Howell….

It’s got such verve, excitement and gusto in it. It just races along and pulls you with it. It’s light, exciting, fascinating and interesting. You somehow get soaked up into the life of those times. It’s a wonderful piece of work. I hope it gets people stirred up and arguing. It’s brilliant!

The ideas in Love’s Labour’s Found were then developed in three talks that Stewart was invited to give at the Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, London W.1. in 2009

grosvenor chapel with Peter Pan house

…entitled…..

Shakespeare, Love and Religion

….which later became…

Shakespeare the Movie

shakespeare-shades

The talks formed the basis of this blog, The Shakespeare Code, which now has….

….. 250 Posts…..

….. and is read in over……

200 Countries!!!

Here are the TOP TWENTY POSTS  for 2016:

In First Place

Just How Gay was Henry Wriothesley, the Third Earl of Southampton?

henry wriothesley new miniature

Harry Southampton had a love affair with William Shakespeare…..

Chandos portrait

…. which lasted, off and on, from 1592 to 1605…..

Harry had a taste for lower class young men…..

……as his mother Mary did….

 But this did not stop him from loving and marrying the beautiful Elizabeth Vernon….

vernon elizabeth comb

……..and having children with her….

Note: This Post was mentioned in a tweet by Stephen Fry…….

Stephen Fry 1

…. and received 4000 Views on one day alone!

In Second Place

Why did William Shakespeare Write the Sonnets?

sonnets

Shakespeare’s Sonnets lie at the heart of The Code’s studies.

They are highly complex and highly coded, but give us searing insight into Shakespeare’s life, love and thought.

They sometimes make uncomfortable reading…

…..because they are torn from the fibre of life itself.

See also: Shakespeare’s Sonnets Decoded.

In Third Place
Viola’s ‘Willow Cabin’ speech decoded.

tilbury, elizabeth in armour woodcut 001

Viola’s ravishing, but mysterious, Willow Cabin references a romantic, patriotic incident that occurred at Tilbury during the Spanish Armada scare…..

…..when Elizabeth visited her troops in armour and on horseback.

In Fourth Place

Shakespeare in Titchfield. A Summary of the Evidence.

Titchfield_Abbey_Hampshire_addition_c1538

Shakespeare joined the Roman Catholic Southampton family in 1590 as a ‘fac totum’, entertainer, tutor, teacher…..

shakespeare 1588

…. and generally ‘nice-person-to-have-around’.

His plays – some of which had their first performances at Titchfield – deal with the political, moral and religious pre-occupations of the Southampton family…..

….and those of Southampton’s intimate friend, the dashing Robert Devereux, Second Earl of Essex….

essex young beardeless

In Fifth Place

 A Midsummer Night’s Dream Decoded

oberon large starry (2)

Mary Southampton commissioned Shakespeare to write A Midsummer Night’s Dream to celebrate her marriage to Sir Thomas Heneage at Copt Hall in Essex in 1594……

copped hall

Written for an aristocratic audience of both Roman Catholics and Protestants, the play contains coded praise for BOTH the late Mary, Queen of Scots……

mary stuart hat feather

 ….AND the aging Queen Elizabeth I! 

Queen Elizabeth.

Using Fairy Magic as a symbol of the Old Faith, Shakespeare attempts to lay to rest the troubled spirit of Mary’s first husband, the Second Earl of Southampton.

Photo by Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood

See also: Faire Lore and Magic in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ – a Grosvenor Chapel talk.

In Sixth Place

 The Appointment of Maggie Ollerenshaw as a Fellow of the Shakespeare Code

maggie o. 2.

The Shakespeare Code will, from time to time, bestow Fellowships on outstanding individuals.

In 2011 it made the fabulous actress and writer Maggie Ollerenshaw – currently starring in Open All Hours – a Fellow of The Shakespeare Code.

Maggie now has the inalienable right to affix the letters F.S.C. to her name. 

Read Your Cat’s now classic interview with Maggie in  which she reveals ALL!

See also: The Literary World toasts Eddie Linden, F.S.C., on his Eightieth Birthday!

The photograph of the distinguished Glaswegian poet, Eddie Linden, F.S.C. now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

The photograph of the distinguished Glaswegian poet, Eddie Linden, F.S.C. now hanging in the National Portrait Gallery.

Other Fellows include Karen Gledhill F.S.C., Michael Hentges F.S.C.,  Charles Sharman-Cox F.S.C. and John Lyall F.S.C.

In Seventh Place

Trixie the Cat’s Guide to the Birthday Sonnets

henry_wriothesley_3rd_earl_of_southampton

Mary, Countess of Southampton, commissioned Shakespeare to write seventeen sonnets for her son, Harry’s, seventeenth birthday in 1590….

….. to persuade him to marry Elizabeth de Vere…..

Elizabeth_de_Vere

….the granddaughter of Harry’s guardian, Lord Burghley…..

burghley on donkey 001

But the scheme backfired when Shakespeare and Harry fell in love with each other.

See also: Shakespeare’s Sonnets Decoded.

In Eighth Place

‘Twelfth Night’ Decoded.

olivia1

Twelfth Night was written to appease the Queen Elizabeth, furious after the Earl of Essex burst into her bedroom unannounced……

…..and saw her without her wig or make-up. 

Still from Benjamin Britten's opera 'Gloriana'.

Still from Benjamin Britten’s opera ‘Gloriana’.

The love-sick Orsino represents Essex, pining for the love of his Queen….

The love-sick Orsino/Essex...

….and Olivia an idealised Elizabeth, left with the daunting task of running her ‘household’ – England – after the death of her father and her brother.

Malvolio – who wants to wrest power from Olivia….

malvolio tree portrait photo

…… represents the ruthlessly ambitious Sir Walter Raleigh…..

raleigh hilliard

And the boistrous Sir Toby Belch….

Belch

…….Sir George Carey, the Second Lord Hunsdon…..

…..the debauched, bon viveur cousin of Elizabeth….

George_Carey_by_Nicholas_Hilliard_1601

……who provoked a furious row with Elizabeth when he told her she was too old to ride a horse…

To read B.A. Young’s review in the Financial Times of Stewart’s production of Twelfth Night at The Northcott Theatre in Exeter in 1985….

twelfth night

….click: HERE!

In Ninth Place

Shakespeare in Scotland. ‘Macbeth’ Decoded.

macbeths bloody

Macbeth was NOT, as most scholars believe, written in the reign of King James….

It was written in the reign of  Queen Elizabeth and first performed in Scotland in 1599 at Holyrood House……

….the site of King James’s witch trials.

north berwick witches (3)

It was an attempt to get King James to join in with the Essex rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. 

She had ‘murdered’ James’s mother – Mary Queen of Scots – when she was her ‘guest’ in England….

….. in the same way the Macbeths murder Duncan when he is a guest at their castle.

It was James’s duty and his destiny to invade England to destroy the tyrant Elizabeth….

James, however, declined….

See also: ‘Something Wicked this Way Comes’. New Light on the Witches in ‘Macbeth’. A Grosvenor Chapel talk.

Macbeth and the Weird Sisters

In Tenth Place
The Earl of Southampton and his Cat

Trixie 2.

Harry Southampton, jailed in the Tower of London for his part in the Essex rebellion against the Queen, hoped to become King James’s new boyfriend when Elizabeth died. 

He sent this painting – with a couple of commissioned sonnets by Shakespeare – to ‘woo’ the King by offering his hand.

But the King didn’t want to know.

He was much more interested in younger men….

The cat on  the window-sill, by the way, plays a highly symbolic role….

tower without Trixie

In Eleventh Place

The Dedication to Shakespeare’s Sonnets Decoded.

sonnets frontispiece

Harry Southampton ‘dropped’ his lover Shakespeare when his wife, Elizabeth, had a baby boy in 1605. 

Shakespeare’s response was the poisonous Sonnet 126…..

…..and four years later he took his revenge by making public all his private love-sonnets.

This Dedication to the Sonnets indicates, in code, who his lover was….

Southampton in armour

See also: Sonnet 126 Decoded.

In Twelfth Place

Queen Elizabeth, Essex and the Ring – proving an old, romantic myth is true!

essex ring

Queen Elizabeth gave the Earl of Essex a ring with the promise that, if he sent it to her, she would forgive him, no matter what he had done.

Essex rebelled against the Queen and was sentenced to death. As he was awaiting execution in the Tower he sent the ring, via a likely lad, to Philadelphia Scrope – his supporter at Court and a friend of the Queen.

But the lad gave it to Scrope’s sister, Katherine – who was married to one of Essex’s mortal enemies – Charles Howard, First Earl of Nottingham. 

DON279020

So the Queen never got the ring…..

….and Essex was beheaded.

essex execution

Lytton Strachey….

lyttton strachey

….pooh-poohed this story in his Elizabeth and Essex…..

……on NO GROUNDS WHATSOEVER!

Historians have followed Strachey like sheep….

But The Code argues that the story is COMPLETELY TRUE!!!

In Thirteenth Place

Feste the Clown as Thomas Nashe
Thomas-Nashe

Thomas Nashe, The Code believes, collaborated with Shakespeare on his plays……

…..just as he collaborated with Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe…..

dido frontispiece small

…..and often wrote and performed the ‘stand-up’ parts at their premieres.

'Ricky Sharpe' as Feste and Karen Gledhill F.S.C. as Viola.

‘Ricky Sharpe’ as Feste and Karen Gledhill F.S.C. as Viola.

Nashe was basically Shakespeare’s ‘gag-writer’….

……and was in fierce competition with him for Harry Southampton’s patronage. 

 It was Nashe, The Code argues, who actually attacked Shakespeare for being…..

…..an upstart crow……

….posing as Robert Greene who had just died….

robert greene

See also: Shakespeare as Berowne and Thomas Nashe as Moth in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’.

In Fourteenth Place

The Biography of Stewart Trotter

Stewart, The Code’s Chief Agent, won an Open Exhibition to study English at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge and  then worked for many years in the professional theatre as a director, producer, artistic director and writer. He won the Hugh Beaumont Award for Best Director of 1976 for his production of The Browning Version at the King’s Head Theatre in Islington which re-established the reputation of Sir Terence Rattigan. He worked with Sir Peter Hall at the National Theatre – then ran his own company at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter for five years. He also started Opera 80 – now English Touring Opera – and was its Artistic Director, also for five years. He has directed in the West End and Chichester Festival and his rock version of the opera Carmen – Carmen Latina – was commissioned by the Kammeroper in Vienna and has played in six different countries.

Carmen Latina in Denmark

Carmen Latina in Denmark

See: http://www.carmenlatina.com

Stewart brings a practical knowledge of the theatre to the subject of Shakespeare.

In Fifteenth Place

Shakespeare in Italy.

Venus and Adonis

Shakespeare, Harry Southampton and Thomas Nashe paid a secret visit to Europe in the spring of 1593.

They called on King Philip II of Spain – a great friend of the Southampton family – at Madrid where Shakespeare saw Titian’s paintings of Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece.

He recreated them in verse –  using the same colours that Titian did…..

Titian's 'Rape of Lucrece' which The Shakespeare Code believes inspired Shakespeare's poem. The use of colours is identical. See 'Shakespeare in Italy'.

Shakespeare also visited Rome and saw the famous obelisk, recently re-erected in front of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

obelisk tudor

It was a sacred object to Roman Catholics as it was believed to be the last thing St. Peter saw before he was crucified.

Shakespeare used the obelisk in his Sonnets as a symbol of his eternal love for Southampton.

Note: It is often said that Shakespeare gets the geography of Italy wrong: he has a ship sail to Milan from Verona.

In fact Shakespeare got the geography of Italy exactly right: in his day Italy was studded with canals…

canal-italy

See also: Shakespeare’s Italian ‘Mistakes’.

In Sixteenth Place

The Original Ending to ‘King Lear’.

Stewart Trotter playing King Lear at Titchfield.

Stewart Trotter playing King Lear at Titchfield.

The ending to King Lear in the 1604 Quarto version is not, as most scholars believe, a printer’s error…

…. it is Shakespeare’s original conclusion to the drama when, stripped of all illusion, the King wills his own death.

This Post also deals in detail with the symptoms of the King’s disease – the Mother.

Is it a physical disease – the Jacobeans asked – or is it possession by demons?

Stewart Trotter playing King Lear at Southend High School for Boys - with John Lyall, F.S.C. as Gloucester.

Stewart Trotter playing King Lear at Southend High School for Boys – with John Lyall, F.S.C. as Gloucester.

See also: The Background to ‘King Lear’ – A Grosvenor Chapel Talk.

In Seventeenth Place

Willobie his Avisa Decoded

Willobie his Avisa frontispiece 001

Willobie his Avisa is an anonymous satire on the relationship between Shakespeare and Harry Southampton…..

……and their blundering attempts to seduce the chaste Avisa.

The Code argues that the author was none other than the mixed race musician, poet, courtesan and coquette, Amelia Bassano/Lanyer – the Dark Lady of the Sonnets….

….who prick-teased Shakespeare, bedded young Harry…..

….. and performed the dark-skinned parts – in private performances – in many of Shakespeare’s plays.

See also: How Shakespeare’s Dark Lady found God – a Grosvenor Chapel talk.

In Eighteenth Place

Why Falstaff is Fat

falstaff 4

The antiquarian John Aubrey believed that Shakespeare and Ben Jonson often based the characters in their plays on people they knew.

The Code puts the case for a Titchfield man as the original of Falstaff….

See also:

The Strange Case of Mr. Apis Lapis

…..an essay which the great Shakespeare scholar, Prof Jonathan Bate……

Prof-Johnathan-Bate-243x317

….described as

a terrific article and very persuasive……

simon callow doublet

SIMON CALLOW writes:

I have read your blog. I entirely accept the Titchfield connection with Shakespeare and equally buy your association of Beeston with Falstaff. I much enjoyed Love’s Labour’s Found. Warmest and best.

In Nineteenth Place

Richard III’ Decoded

olivier richard III

The position adopted by many scholars – that Richard III is a piece of Tudor Propaganda – is complete nonsense!

It is a satire on Queen Elizabeth’s lover who had died a few years earlier….

dudley youngish

These early history plays were joint commissions from the Countess of Southampton, and Mary Sidney, Countess of Pembroke at nearby Wilton…..

…and were played out in the grounds of their estates….

Both women had reason to hate Elizabeth – and feared a civil war – like the one Shakespeare wrote about so often – would follow her death if she did not name a successor.

And in Twentieth Place

‘Julius Caesar’ Decoded

julius caesar assassination

After Essex had been placed under house arrest, half his followers wanted him to rebel against Elizabeth – the other half to seek appeasement with her.

Shakespeare was definitely an appeaser.

He shows in the play just how wrong a rebellion can go…

And how Essex was being misled by his secretary Henry Cuffe…..

…..just as Brutus was misled by Cassius…..

brutus-and-cassius

TRIX’S PIX

So, Brothers and Sisters of The Code –  these are the twenty most popular Posts over the past year……

But can Your Cat mention a few of her own favourites?

‘Tales from the Palace Theatre: Paul’s Tale’

Tales cover

Tales from The Palace Theatre is a book about the Palace Theatre in Westcliff which Charles Sharman-Cox F.S.C.

charles sharman cox 1

…and Stewart compiled. 

In it is ‘Paul’s Tale’ – Paul Greenhalgh’s  hilarious account of working in a gay rep company in the 60’s…

paul greenhalgh as alexander the great

The Seven Ages of Shakespeare

Photo by Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood

Stewart’s brilliant entertainment about Shakespeare was staged in Titchfield itself last autumn.

The Authorities have allowed Shakespeare out of Purgatory for a single day to ‘fess up’ about his life. 

You the audience decide whether he should go on to Heaven, stay in Purgatory…..

…or worse!

The Southampton Family Tomb Decoded

wriothesley-monument-side-angle

This is a talk Stewart and Your Cat gave to a packed audience at St. Peter’s Church in Titchfield last Autumn…. 

It shows how the stunningly beautiful tomb is PACKED with secret Roman Catholic imagery….

Jane, First Countess of Southampton. Photo by Ross Underwood.

Jane, First Countess of Southampton. Photo by Ross Underwood.

FUTURE PROJECTS FOR THE SHAKESPEARE CODE!!!

PROJECT ONE

The Sonnets arranged in Chronological Order.

When Shakespeare published his Sonnets, he did so in basically two piles…..

……’His’ (large) and ‘Hers’ (small).

They are NOT in chronological order…..

Stewart has been working on the mammoth task of working out what that order was…..

An order that Shakespeare deliberately kept secret….

This will give us even more insight into the life of Shakespeare. 

The results will be Posted over the year….

PROJECT TWO

All’s Well that Ends Well = Love’s Labour’s Won.

The Code will set out to prove that the mysterious Love’s Labour’s Won that Francis Meeres mentions in 1588 was the ORIGINAL version of All’s Well that Ends Well and was played at Titchfield as a companion piece to Love’s Labour’s Lost.

PROJECT THREE

This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine…

Members of the congregation at the Grosvenor Chapel have asked Stewart to decode The Tempest….

…and he has agreed to do a dramatised talk on a Sunday afternoon after Easter on a date to be announced…..

…..with the fabulous ‘Trotter Players’…

prospero and spirits

 

Brothers and Sisters of The Code….

……thank you for all your support over the years……

……..and all your kind praise.

It means a lot to us….

And thanks particularly to…

 …’the onlie begetter’ of The Shakespeare Code.

Michael Hentges, F.S.C.

He wrote about our first Post with encouragement from Canada…

…and so the blog was born…..

‘Bye now…

Paw-Print smallest

A Statement from The Shakespeare Code’s Chief Agent….

STEWART TROTTER

Photo by Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood

Seconds before Trixie the Cat……

Trixie

……and I gave our talk……

‘The Southampton Family ‘Tomb’ Decoded’

 ……before the Southampton Memorial in St. Peter’s, Titchfield, on Sunday 23rd October, 2016….

wriothesley tomb - colour

……Trixie made an amazing discovery!!!

The three arches in the memorial are covered in roses….

Photo by Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood

This is in honour of the famous Southampton rose….

southampton rose crest 2.

But it is also a reference to the way in which the aristocratic branch of the Wriothesley family sometimes pronounced it’s name….

……Ryosely….

……the form in which it is recorded in the Titchfield Parish Register….

William Shakespeare……

Chandos portrait

…. referred to his Patron and Lover, Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton…..

Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton.

…. as….

Beauty’s Rose…

…..and….

my Rose….

…in Sonnets 1 and 109….

The Southampton memorial was funded by the Third Earl’s father……

…..the Second Earl, also called Henry.

Photo by Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood

He had wanted two tombs – one for his father and mother and one for himself….

His motive was to humiliate his wife – the beautiful Mary Browne……

Mary Browne…because he believed she had been unfaithful to him…..

When the Second Earl died in 1581 Mary overturned his will…..

….. and ‘forgot’ about his request for two separate tombs….

However, in 1594, the year her son the Third Earl was to come of age, she ordered a SINGLE memorial from Garett Johnson of Southwark….

This depicted her mother-in-law Jane Southampton….

Photo by Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood

…….her father-in-law, Thomas Wriothesley, the First Earl of Southampton…..

Photo by Ross Underwood.

Photo by Ross Underwood.

……and her husband, Henry, the Second Earl, resplendent in armour, curly hair and moustache…

Photo by Ross Underwood.

Photo by Ross Underwood.

The inscription to him on the memorial states that he died….

….in the 36 year of his age…..

When Henry had died, Mary had claimed to hate her husband…..

….but it seems that by 1594 she had started to soften towards him…..

She has certainly instructed Garrett Johnson to depict him on the memorial as a dashing and handsome man…..

And there is another sign of love and affection…..

Trixie the Cat noticed – just before our talk began – that there were twelve roses in each of the three arches in the memorial…..

Photo by Ross Underwood

Photo by Ross Underwood

…..making thirty-six roses altogether…..

ONE FOR EVERY YEAR OF HER LATE HUSBAND’S LIFE!!!

To read the First Part of the Talk, click: HERE!

To read the Second Part of the Talk, click:HERE