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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: February ::
Re: Shakespeare's French
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.0208  Tuesday, 1 February 2000.

[1]     From:   Ray Lischner <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2000 15:15:20 -0800
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare's French

[2]     From:   David Kathman <
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        Date:   Monday, 31 Jan 2000 23:57:01 -0600
        Subj:   Re: SHK 11.0190 Re: Shakespeare's French


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ray Lischner <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2000 15:15:20 -0800
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare's French

What I find most interesting is how Shakespeare managed to get some
French into Henry V, but in 1 Henry IV, he punts and has "The lady
speaks in Welsh."

Ray Lischner,  http://www.bardware.com
co-author (with John Doyle) of Shakespeare for Dummies

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Monday, 31 Jan 2000 23:57:01 -0600
Subject: 11.0190 Re: Shakespeare's French
Comment:        Re: SHK 11.0190 Re: Shakespeare's French

William Sutton wrote:

>Where did Sh. learn his French? The scenes from HV show anyone who
>speaks French that it was neither brilliant nor was it a mere dozen or
>so words plucked from a French dictionary of the time. My thoughts on
>this are completely unprovable but what the hey.
>
>The printer that Richard Field worked for was a French/Belgian Huguenot
>named Vautrollier. He had a license to hire (top of my head work) I
>believe six apprentices plus his wife, a skilled craftswoman and his two
>sons.

Actually, this is not quite accurate.  Thomas Vautrollier had no
apprentices in the legal sense.  Richard Field served six years in
Vautrollier's shop, but Field was technically apprenticed to George
Bishop, under a contract which stipulated that he would spend the first
six years of his seven year apprenticeship with Vautrollier.
Vautrollier's status as a foreigner may have had something to do with
this arrangement.  The year before Field began his apprenticeship,
Bishop made an identical arrangement with another French bookseller,
Lewis Senior, whereby William Hammond was apprenticed to Bishop but
served the first six years under Senior.

You're probably thinking of the Letters Patent that Vautrollier received
in 1574 for the printing of Latin school texts for a period of ten
years, in which he was allowed the help of "six woorkemen Ffrenchmen or
Dutchemen, or suche lyke, for the sayd space or terme of tenne yeres."
These were not technically apprentices, since they were not directly
under the control of the Stationers' Company, but for all practical
purposes they probably acted as apprentices.

Vautrollier's son Thomas was admitted to the Stationer's Company in
1605, but died three years later after acting as seller for a single
book.  I don't know when he was born, but he may have helped out in his
father's shop as a youth.

>The press produced the English prayer book I believe as well as
>works in Greek, Hebrew as well as English.  Field was the only English
>apprentice who later married the widow (daughter?).

He married Vautrollier's widow, Jacqueline, who had carried on the
business during her husband's frequent absences in Scotland, where he
also had a bookshop and printing shop.  The marriage took place in 1588,
a year after Vautrollier's death.

>Sh.'s first poem came from this press. It is generally believed he saw
>it through the press.(?)

It's not as generally believed as it used to be.  It's true that Venus
and Adonis contained very few errors, but this was a general feature of
all the books printed in Field's shop, and does not necessarily imply
the author's involvement.  See A. C. Partridge's *A Substantive Grammer
of Shakespeare's Nondramatic Texts* (1976).

>I suggest mealtimes are an excellent place to
>learn foreign languages, especially in a close knit long term group of
>workers. Any person speaking two or more languages will tell you how the
>snowball effect of learning is a gradual and not an isolated process.
>Then I naturally see the Montaigne/Florio connection, the Huguenot
>tiremaker's who Sh. lodged with and testified on behalf of make to me
>more sense.
>
>I hope this stream of non verifiable romantic inference hasn't made any
>of you nauseous. Does anyone have a list of possible apprentices like
>Mac P.  Jackson supplied for  G.Eld and his Sonnet compositors?

I'm not sure which possible apprentices you're talking about.  Lists of
apprentices can be found in Arber's edition of the Stationer's Register,
but as I noted above, Vautrollier technically did not have any
apprentices, so none (except Field) are to be found there.  Richard
Field did have apprentices, one of whom was his own brother Jasper.

>Does
>anyone have any information pinpointing Vautrollier? (I believe Dave
>Kathman has some).

Yes, I do.  The best biographical accounts of Vautrollier are, in
roughly descending order of importance: Colin Clair, 'Thomas
Vautrollier', Gutenberg-Jahrbuch (1960), 223-8; W. R. LeFanu, 'Thomas
Vautrollier, printer and bookseller', Proceedings of the Huguenot
Society of London, xx (1959), 12-25; J. C. Whitebrook, 'Calvin's
Institute of Christian religion in the imprints of Thomas Vautrollier',
Transactions of the Congregational Historical Society, xii (1933-6),
197-212; Robert Dickson and John Philip Edmond, Annals of Scottish
Printing (1890), 377-93;
A. E. M. Kirkwood, 'Richard Field, printer, 1589-1624', The Library, IV,
xii (1931-2), 1-39 (pp. 2-5 are about Vautrollier); and Robert D.
Pepper, 'Francis Clement's Petie scole at the Vautrollier Press, 1587',
The Library, V, xxii (1967), 1-12.

>Why do Shakespearian scholars spend so much time
>debating -isms instead of sifting the available records? Are all the
>records checked already?

No, not by any means.  The new issue of Shakespeare Quarterly has an
article by Charles Whitney which has lots of fascinating new information
from the records of the London Livery Companies in the 1580s and 1590s.
There is a relatively small but dedicated band of scholars going through
archival records and discovering all kinds of interesting stuff.  The
Records of Early English Drama project is uncovering tons of
information, and such scholars as Alan Nelson and William Ingram are
finding lots more.

>There were a lot of Europeans in Elizabethan London.  Was it Mariette
>Chute who said you could learn some twenty languages? The french word
>book facsimile I saw at the Univ of A'dam had phrases like 'do you like
>to be tickled?' The bilboe is not far away.

John Eliot's French-English phrase book *Ortho-epia Gallica, or Eliots
Fruites from the French* is full of colloquial and humorous expressions
which obviously caught Shakespeare's eye (to judge by the use he made of
Eliot's book).  As I noted in another post, Eliot was a Warwickshire
man, and his book was printed by none other than Richard Field.  The
Vautrollier-Field shop was the leading publisher of language-learning
books in Elizabethan London, and this shop printed a highly
disproportionate number of Shakespeare's sources, suggesting that the
Bard made use of its archives.  For more detail, see my article
"Shakespeare and Richard Field", on the web at
http://www.clark.net/pub/tross/ws/field.html.  It's written from the
perspective of the dreaded authorship question, but those with no
interest in that tedious exchange may still find something of interest
there.

Dave Kathman

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