Was Shakespeare an Essex Man?

Unfortunately, not a talk which reveals that Shakey actually had a fondness for Hofmeister lager, calling other men “John” and girls wearing white stillettos….

“Professor Jonathan Bate will deliver his lecture ‘Was Shakespeare an Essex Man?’ (British Academy Shakespeare Lecture 2008), on Tuesday 3rd June 2008 at 5.30 p.m. in Lecture Theatre 1, Sherrington Building.   All welcome. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception.

Jonathan Bate, one of the world’s leading Shakespearian scholars and critics,  is Professor of Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature at the University of Warwick, and was King Alfred Professor of English Literature at Liverpool University from 1991-2003.

Abstract: This lecture will offer a reinterpretation of one of the most important but misunderstood episodes in Shakespeare’s career: the specially commissioned performance of Richard II at the Globe on the eve of the Earl of Essex’s ‘rebellion’ in February 1601. It will refute the recent suggestion that the play performed was not by Shakespeare, will reveal who commissioned the performance and why, will make a new proposal about the relationship between Shakespeare’s play and Sir John Hayward’s controversial History of Henry IV, will set the performance in the larger context of Shakespeare’s representations of the codes of honour, chivalry and politic history that were associated with Essex and his circle, and will suggest that the famous encounter between Queen Elizabeth and William Lambarde, in which she purportedly compared herself to Richard II, was in all probability embroidered long after the event.”

Some will remember the lengthy spat between Frank Kermode and Blair Worden about this in the LRB (which starts here.) Of course, as any fule kno, the play in question was actually written by one of Elizabeth I’s many illegitimate children.


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