Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 3, No. 171. Monday, 13 July 1992.
Date: Sunday, July 12, 1992, 19:21:51 -0400
Subject: The Wigmaker's Son-in-law and the Sonnets
In 1612, it says here, the Bard was called to the Court of Requests concerning
a suit brought by one Stephen Belott, former apprentice to a Christopher
Mountjoy and later his son-in-law, against said father-in-law for default of
a marriage dowry. Our poet was living in the household of Mr. Mountjoy, a
wigmaker, from about 1602, and was pressed into service by Mrs. Mountjoy, wife
to the wigmaker and mother of the intended, that he should approach the
apprentice and persuade him to the match. The marriage was duly joined in
If this story resonates to your mind with the opening of the Sonnets, you are
not alone. Although I know the internal evidence and external cycle of style
would date the Sonnets from 1592-95 during the Plague Years, I am wondering if
there is conclusive proof which would trump my idle speculation.
Is it not just barely possible, just barely, that the tools utilized by
Shakespeare to prevail upon the apprentice were joined with the "..sugared
Sonnets among his private friends.." mentioned by Meres in 1598 to become the
collection published in 1609? Isn't it fun to wonder about it, anyway?