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«ALAN STEWART Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the ...»

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Shakespeare’s

Letters

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Shakespeare’s

Letters

ALAN STEWART

Great Clarendon Street, Oxford OX2 6DP

Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford.

It furthers the University’s objective of excellence in research, scholarship,

and education by publishing worldwide in

Oxford New York

Auckland Cape Town Dar es Salaam Hong Kong Karachi

Kuala Lumpur Madrid Melbourne Mexico City Nairobi New Delhi Shanghai Taipei Toronto With offices in Argentina Austria Brazil Chile Czech Republic France Greece Guatemala Hungary Italy Japan Poland Portugal Singapore South Korea Switzerland Thailand Turkey Ukraine Vietnam Oxford is a registered trade mark of Oxford University Press in the UK and in certain other countries Published in the United States by Oxford University Press Inc., New York © Alan Stewart 2008 The moral rights of the author have been asserted Database right Oxford University Press (maker) First published 2008 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior permission in writing of Oxford University Press, or as expressly permitted by law, or under terms agreed with the appropriate reprographics rights organization. Enquiries concerning reproduction outside the scope of the above should be sent to the Rights Department, Oxford University Press, at the address above You must not circulate this book in any other binding or cover and you must impose the same condition on any acquirer British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data Data available Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data Data available Typeset by SPI Publisher Services, Pondicherry, India Printed in Great Britain on acid-free paper by Antony Rowe Ltd., Chippenham, Wiltshire ISBN 978–0–19–954927–6 For Daniel Ebalo This page intentionally left blank acknowledgements This book started out having nothing to do with Shakespeare. My original interest was in how early modern letters worked, an issue that became crucial when I was working on the correspondence of Francis Bacon in 2000–2 at Birkbeck, University of London, with Patricia Brewerton and Andrew Gordon. Virtually every day the three of us would abandon our dark basement office for an equally dark basement coffee bar and ponder the strange and wonderful quirks of the materials we were dealing with. What initially seemed to be a straightforward subject—surely letters are just letters?— became increasingly complex the closer we looked, and, to me, increasingly fascinating.

That conversation has continued since, and led naturally to further, inspiring collaborations. Lisa Jardine and I worked on the founding in 2002 of a Centre for Editing Lives and Letters in London, where I had the opportunity to teach a graduate course on ‘writing lives from letters’. Patricia Brewerton and I convened the unFamiliar Letters conference at Birkbeck in July 2002, which brought together forty scholars all working on early modern epistles. Heather Wolfe and I curated the Folger Shakespeare Library’s 2004 exhibition Letterwriting in Renaissance England, and edited its accompanying catalogue, during which time Heather taught me much about the physical materials of letters. Lynne Magnusson and I led a seminar on letter-writing at the 2007 Shakespeare Association of America meeting, which furthered our discussion of all things epistolary.

These experiences, and these colleagues, were invaluable in helping viii Acknowledgements me think about letters. But it was Barbara Mowat who informed me that my vague ideas for a book on letters would be better put to use on the plays of William Shakespeare, and I realised instantly that, quite characteristically, she was right. And so I spent the summer of 2005 in Paris re-reading Shakespeare, and the summer of 2006 in London researching Shakespeare’s use of letters. Shakespeare’s Letters is the result.

I have been incredibly fortunate to write this book at Columbia, in the everyday company of a remarkable set of colleagues, all of whom have read, listened to, debated and flayed various parts of this project: Julie Crawford, Kathy Eden, Jean Howard, David Scott Kastan, Molly Murray, and Anne Lake Prescott. I am particularly indebted to Jim Shapiro who has done more than anyone else to encourage, cajole, and provoke me into writing about Shakespeare’s letters. Among an inspiring graduate cohort, I am especially indebted to András Kiséry and Adam Hooks, who commented on drafts, and to Rebecca Calcagno, who tried to correct my ignorance of the plays of Shakespeare’s contemporaries with a stream of helpful references. Friends and colleagues further afield read drafts of chapters, answered queries, or allowed me to read their unpublished research: I thank Amanda Bailey, Diana Barnes, David Bergeron, Paul Cannan, Christopher Ebert, David Kathman, Jerry Passannante, Chris Ross, Adam Smyth, Goran Stanivukovic, and Matthew Steggle. I am particularly grateful to James Daybell, whose own work has opened up the field of early modern letters, and who has remained a generous and supportive fellow traveller.

I thank Rob Blackshaw and Hilary Fraser for making their homes available to me; and especially Richard Schoch who has been a gracious host and good company on the many occasions when I returned to London.





Ideas were tried out on audiences at Queen Mary and Birkbeck, both University of London; the Columbia Early Modern Seminar; the Columbia University Shakespeare Seminar; the University of North Carolina at Charlotte; the University of Southern

Acknowledgements ix

California’s Early Modern Studies Institute at the Huntington; the annual meetings of the Renaissance Society of America (2006) and the Shakespeare Association of America (2006, 2008); and a Folger Institute faculty seminar on The English Grammar School.

For invitations to speak, and for questions and challenges, I’m grateful to Corey Abate, Michael Baron, Anston Bosman, Warren Boutcher, Bianca Calabresi, Maurice Charney, Joanna Cheetham, Cyndia Clegg, Stephen Clucas, Lynn Enterline, Gina Fitzmaurice, Cora Fox, Elizabeth Goodland, Elizabeth Hanson, Deb Harkness, Andrew Hartley, Tom Healy, Heather James, Jeffrey Kahan, Yvette Khoury, Mary Ellen Lamb, Rebecca Lemon, Naomi Liebler, Zoltan Markus, Kirk Melnikoff, Margaret Mikesell, Jen Munroe, Curtis Perry, June Schlueter, Bruce Smith, Tiffany Werth, Sue Wiseman, Suzanne Woofford, and many others.

Valuable help was supplied by the Folger Shakespeare Library in the form of a short-term fellowship to work on ‘the materiality of early modern letters’ (2000), and by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council for postdoctoral research support on the Bacon letters project (2000–2). I am grateful once again to the collections and staff of the British Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, Columbia University’s Butler Library, and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Record Office, especially Robert Bearman and Mairi MacDonald. For their help in providing images I am indebted to Jo Wong (Shakespeare Birthplace Trust), Wendy Zieger (Bridgeman Art Library), Stephen Tabor (Huntington Library), Bettina Smith (Folger), Camille Lynch (National Gallery of Ireland), and Anna van Lingen (Rijksmuseum Amsterdam).

Part of Chapter 1 of this book has appeared in Shakespeare Studies;

a version of Chapter 3 was published in Shakespeare Quarterly; some passages from the Introduction will appear in a different guise in Textual Practice. I am grateful to these publications for the permission to re-use material, and to their editors for comments on drafts of the work: Garrett Sullivan and Susan Zimmerman; Jonathan Gil Harris, Gail Kern Paster, and Bill Sherman; and Andrew Hadfield.

x Acknowledgements

At Oxford University Press, my editor Andrew McNeillie has been a welcome supporter of this project from the outset. I am grateful to him for his confidence, and for the entire team at OUP, especially Jacqueline Baker and Fiona Smith, for their enthusiasm and expertise. For their wonderfully full, generous, and supportive readers’ reports, and the example of their own work on letters, I am indebted to Lynne Magnusson and Gary Schneider. For their careful proofreading and copy-editing, I thank Camasin Middour, Susan Beer, and Carolyn McAndrew.

I dedicate this book to Daniel Ebalo, with my love and gratitude.

contents

–  –  –

1 Queen Elizabeth’s letter to William Shakespeare, as published by Samuel Ireland By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library 2 Hamlet’s letter to Horatio in Hamlet Prince of Denmark, First Folio (F) edition By permission of the Folger Shakespeare Library 3 Hamlet’s letter to Horatio in Hamlet Prince of Denmark, Second Quarto (Q2 ) edition This item is reproduced by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California 4 Letter from Richard Quiney to William Shakespeare, 25 October 1598. Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office MS ER 27/4 Reproduced by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust 5 Letter from Quiney to Shakespeare, 25 October 1598.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office MS ER 27/4. Reproduced by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust 6 Letter from Robert Allen to Raffe Allen, 8 October 1598.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office BRU 15/12 art 51 Reproduced by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Illustrations xiii 7 Letter from Robert Allen to Raffe Allen, 8 October 1598.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office BRU 15/12 art 51 Reproduced by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust 8 Hans Holbein the Younger, Portrait of the Merchant George Gisze, 1532 Reproduced by permission of the Gemaldegalerie, Berlin. Photograph by Bridgeman Art Library International 9 Jan Gossaert, Portrait of a Merchant, c. 1530. Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund Image courtesy of the Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Art, Washington 10 John Browne, The marchants avizo (London: William Norton, 1589) This item is reproduced by permission of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California 11 Gabriel Metsu, A Young Woman Receiving a Letter (c. 1658) Reproduced by permission of The Putnam Foundation, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego. Photograph by Bridgeman Art Library International 12 Gabriel Metsu, Woman Reading a Letter (1662–5) Courtesy of The National Gallery of Ireland.

Photo © The National Gallery of Ireland 13 Johannes Vermeer, De lieftesbrief (The Love Letter) (c. 1666) Reproduced by permission of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam 14 Johannes Vermeer, Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid (c. 1670) Courtesy of The National Gallery of Ireland.

Photo © The National Gallery of Ireland xiv Illustrations 15 A signet ring bearing the initials WS, c. 1600.

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust Records Office SBT 1868–3/274 Reproduced by permission of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust abbreviations For ease of reference, quotations from Shakespeare’s plays and verse have been taken from the modernized texts in the most recent individual Arden volumes (either 2nd or 3rd series), using the Arden edition’s abbreviations for each work (see below). The relevant editions are listed at the head of the Bibliography (pp. 362–3). Any readings dependent on specific Quarto or Folio printings have been noted in the text.

–  –  –

KJ King John KL King Lear LC A Lover’s Complaint in Shakespeare’s Sonnets LLL Love’s Labour’s Lost Luc Lucrece in The Poems MA Much Ado About Nothing Mac Macbeth MM Measure for Measure MND A Midsummer Night’s Dream MV The Merchant of Venice MW The Merry Wives of Windsor Oth Othello Per Pericles R2 King Richard II R3 King Richard III RJ Romeo and Juliet Son Shakespeare’s Sonnets TC Troilus and Cressida Tem The Tempest TGV The Two Gentlemen of Verona Tim Timon of Athens Tit Titus Andronicus TN Twelfth Night TNK The Two Noble Kinsmen TS The Taming of the Shrew VA Venus and Adonis in The Poems WT The Winter’s Tale Introduction: Searching for Shakespeare’s Letters In February 1795, a select group of London society’s great and good converged on 8 Norfolk Street, off the Strand, to view, by invitation only, a set of manuscripts described by their host Samuel Ireland as ‘the Shakespeare Papers’,1 an assortment of personal correspondence, contracts, legal instruments, and manuscript drafts of King Lear, a portion of Hamlet, and the hitherto unknown play Vortigern and Rowena.2 Subscriptions for a print edition at four guineas a throw were snapped up, and a high-quality folio volume entitled Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments under the hand and seal of William Shakspeare was issued on 24 December 1795.3 Interest was so intense that Ireland was able to negotiate with Richard Brinsley Sheridan for a production of Vortigern at the Drury Lane Theatre to open on 2 April. But by the time the curtain rose on Vortigern, the Shakespeare Papers had lost their lustre. Simmering suspicions of foul play4 had culminated in the publication of An Inquiry into the Authenticity of certain Miscellaneous Papers and Legal Instruments, a 435page critique by the leading Shakespeare scholar of the day, Edmond Malone, who released his tome to devastating effect just two days before the first performance.5 By the time leading man John Philip Kemble pronounced the deathly fifth-act line ‘And when this solemn mockery is o’er’, the audience was in hysterics;6 Vortigern closed on

2 Introduction



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