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Shakespeare’s Anti-authorship | Early Modern and Open Access

By December 13, 2015 No Comments

This is part of a weekly series here at TSS: Early Modern and Open Access regularly showcases peer-reviewed articles (or other resources) of interest to early modernists that are freely available in open access formats.

Citation and Link:

Richard Wilson, “The Picture of Nobody: Shakespeare’s Anti-authorship,” Authorship 3.1 (2014)

First Paragraph (in lieu of an abstract):

At the end, ‘his nose was as sharp as a pen’ as he ‘babbled of green fields’ (Henry V, 2,3,15). In September 1615, a few weeks before Shakespeare began to make his will and a little over six months before his death, Thomas Greene, town clerk of Stratford, wrote a memorandum of an exchange biographers treasure as the last of the precious few records of the dramatist’s spoken words: ‘W Shakespeares tellyng J Greene that I was not able to beare the enclosinge of Welcombe’. John Greene was the clerk’s brother, and Shakespeare, according to previous papers, was their ‘cousin’, who had lodged Thomas at New Place, his Stratford house. So the Greenes had appealed to their sharp-nosed kinsman for help in a battle that pitted the council against a consortium of speculators who were, in their own eyes, if ‘not the greatest… almost the greatest men of England’. The plan to enclose the fields of Welcombe north of the town was indeed promoted by the steward to the Lord Chancellor, no less. But the predicament for Shakespeare was that it was led by his friends the Combes, rich money-lenders from whom he had himself bought 107 acres adjacent to the scheme. This land was his daughter Susanna’s inheritance, and he had raised her interest in its development by investing in a half-share of the tithes on Welcombe’s corn and hay. Critics like to read into Prospero’s vision of ‘nibbling sheep and flat meads thatched with stover’ (Tempest, 4,1,62-3) ‘Shakespeare’s figurative return home’. But at the close of his life, the dramatist was pitched into the thick of the epoch-marking conflict that was tearing this English idyll apart, for he now had to weigh his rental income from arable farming against the potential profits from those sheep.


Author Lindsay

Lindsay Ann Reid is a regular contributor to The Scrivener and Early Modern and Open Access. She holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and is a Lecturer in English at the National University of Ireland, Galway.

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