Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bad Bard

Source image: Tax Lawyer's Blog

"According to [Leslie] Hotson’s researches, Shakespeare was an energetic, quick-witted but only sketchily educated country boy—perfect qualifications for someone trying to make his way in the bohemian and morally dubious world of the theater. That world was far from respectable in those days; that is why London’s playhouses were clustered on the south bank of the Thames, in the borough of Southwark, outside the jurisdiction of the City of London–and why the document Hotson discovered lies with the Surrey writs and not among those dealing with London proper.
     As a newcomer to the big city, Hotson realized, Shakespeare was obliged to begin his career on a lowly rung, working for disreputable theater people—which, at that time, was generally regarded as akin to working in a brothel. Theaters were meeting places for people whose interest in the opposite sex did not extend to marriage; they were also infested with crooks, pimps and prostitutes, and attracted an audience whose interest in the performance on stage was often minimal. This, of course, explains why the Puritans were so quick to ban public entertainments when they got the chance. [...]
     There is plenty of evidence elsewhere that Shakespeare was somewhat less than a sensitive poet and entirely honest citizen. Legal records show that him dodging from rented room to rented room while defaulting on a few shillings’ worth of tax payments in 1596, 1598 and 1599—though why he went to so much trouble remains obscure, since the totals demanded were tiny compared to the sums that other records suggest he was spending on property at the same time. He also sued at least three men for equally insignificant sums. Nor was Will’s reputation among other literary men too good; when a rival playwright, Robert Greene, was on his deathbed, he condemned Shakespeare for having  'purloined his plumes'—that is, cheated him out of his literary property—and warned others not to fall into the hands of this 'upstart crow.' "

And see a related article here...

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