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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: September ::
Re: Hamnet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0838  Monday, 14 September 1998.

[1]     From:   Simon Malloch <
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 >
        Date:   Friday, 11 Sep 1998 22:42:18 +0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0833 Re: Hamnet

[2]     From:   David J. Kathman <
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        Date:   Friday, 11 Sep 1998 22:20:18 +0100
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0833  Re: Hamnet

[3]     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Saturday, 12 Sep 1998 17:09:28 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 9.0833  Re: Hamnet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Simon Malloch <
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Date:           Friday, 11 Sep 1998 22:42:18 +0800
Subject: 9.0833 Re: Hamnet
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0833 Re: Hamnet

Christopher Nicholson <
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 > wrote:

> Forgive my ignorance but whose was Hamnet?  I'm familiar with Amleth and
> the stories around his death, indeed the name Corambus is derived from
> this story (featured in the 1st "Bad" Quarto as Corambus/Polonius) but
> I'm afraid my knowledge of Danish History is a little vague...
>
> Would you be so good as to enlighten me?

Hamnet was Shakespeare's son, christened with his twin, Judith, on the
2nd of February,  1585. Schoenbaum notes that he was "evidently" named
after Hamnet Sadler,  a young baker of Stratford,  who was close to the
family.  Hamnet was buried on the 11th of August,  1596.

Tad Davis asks:

> If (as Jonathan Bate suggests in his recent book "Shakespeare's Genius") the
> boy William in "Merry Wives" is a joking self-reference, why couldn't Hamlet
> likewise be a kind of semi-private self-reference?

One can understand a joking self-reference,  but would Shakespeare have
wanted to make a semi-private reference about Hamnet,  considering his
short life?

Simon Malloch.

[2]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David J. Kathman <
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 >
Date:           Friday, 11 Sep 1998 22:20:18 +0100
Subject: 9.0833  Re: Hamnet
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0833  Re: Hamnet

Tad Davis wrote:

>Cindy Sullivan asked about Hamnet Shakespeare and "Hamlet". Many writers
>have suggested that Hamnet and Judith Shakespeare were named after
>neighbors Hamnet and Judith Sadler, and Hamnet Sadler's name appears at
>one point in Shakespeare's will as "Hamlett": so there could be a
>connection on some level. Anthony Burgess once suggested the names were
>interchangeable, using the analogy "chimney/chimbley."

In fact, Sadler's name was rendered as "Hamlet" in contemporary
documents almost as often as it was "Hamnet".  Marc Eccles' *Shakespeare
in Warwickshire*, p.126, mentions several documents besides
Shakespeare's will where he is called "Hamlet(t)": the 1595 return of
maltsters, a 1597 letter from Abraham Sturley ("I would Hamlet weare at
home"), the 1601 will of Sadler's brother-in-law John Smith, and the
1606 will of his cousin Helen Sadler.  The regularization to "Hamnet" is
a function of modern editors, much like the modern regularization of
"Marley", "Marlin", "Morley", and "Marlo" to "Marlowe".

Dave Kathman

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[3]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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 >
Date:           Saturday, 12 Sep 1998 17:09:28 -0400
Subject: 9.0833  Re: Hamnet
Comment:        Re: SHK 9.0833  Re: Hamnet

Lee Zhao writes:

>I don't know about that, but if you're thinking along the line of the
>similarities in name Hamnet and Hamlet, then you'd probably be wrong.
>Hamlet comes from a Danish legend and the main character in the legend
>goes by the name of Amleth.

But is it possible that Shakespeare would have dropped the H in Hamlet
and pronounced the th as t?  In other words, would Shakespeare have
pronounced Hamlet and Amleth as Amlet? For example, aren't the names
Otto and Otho pronounced the same way, i.e., Ot-ho?

I remember reading many years ago the claim that Hamnet was a diminutive
of Hamlet, but I have no evidence to corroborate that claim.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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