The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2164 Tuesday, 7 December 1999.
From: Roy Flannagan <
Date: Monday, 06 Dec 1999 12:23:37 -0500
Subject: 10.2146 Re: Shakespeare and Milton
Comment: Re: SHK 10.2146 Re: Shakespeare and Milton
>Nancy Charlton wrote:
> >Dom Saliani responded to Roy Flannagan's posting:
> >>I shared Roy Flannagan's post concerning Shakespeare and Milton with a
> >>friend Nina Green, who is interested in this period. In her response to
> >>the posting, she cautions Flannagan on the identity of Alice Spencer:
> >>> Alice Spencer was the widow of Ferdinando
> >>> Stanley (d.1594), Lord Strange and Earl of Derby, not the widow of
> the Sir
> >>> Edward Stanley whose tomb is at Tong.
> >Would Lady Alice have been a Spencer of the Herberts and Spencers of
>She was the daughter of Sir John Spencer of Althorpe, Northamptonshire.
>I don't know offhand whether there's any connection.
Yes, there is a connection between the Spencers of Althorpe (Lady Di's
folks) and the Spencers of Penshurst (or at least with Sir Philip
Sydney), and Edmund Spenser. The literary connections between Lady
Alice, Dowager Countess of Derby, of Harefield, and nearly every great
poet and playwright who existed during her lifetime are extraordinary.
She married Ferdinando Stanley, Lord Strange and then Earl of Derby, in
1579. She and her husband became Spenser's Amaryllis and Amyntas, and
Spenser dedicated Teares of the Muses to her. Ferdinando was a friend
of the Earl of Essex, and he was the patron of Lord Strange's men, who
staged Titus Andronicus. Ferdinando was also, oddly, King of the Isle
of Man (as Earl of Derby).
Lady Alice was praised by Thomas Nashe; John Marston write a masque in
her honor; and she probably danced in at least one of Ben Jonson's
masques (see William B. Hunter, Milton's Comus: Family Piece [Troy, NY:
Whitstun, 1983]: 14). Lady Alice's second husband was Thomas Egerton,
who became Lord Chancellor Ellesmere, who was, of course, connected with
his secretary, John Donne. Milton creates a connection with Sydney by
calling his aristocratic entertainment for the Lady Alice Arcades.