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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: October ::
Re: Essex/Bolingbroke
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1850  Monday, 2 October 2000.

From:           Rita Lamb <
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Date:           Friday, 29 Sep 2000 07:51:10 +0100
Subject:        Re: Essex/Bolingbroke

<snip>
>Essex himself clearly identified with the Bolingbroke of the narrative
>of the overthrow of Richard II--this was one of the main interpretive
>pieces of evidence "pinned" on him at the trial, but it is not at all
>certain that Shakespeare's play of Richard II was the main vehicle for
>his identification.  Elizabeth was clearly much more upset with the
>luckless lawyer and humanist (of Tacitean/Machiavellian inclinations),
>John Hayward, who spent time in the Tower between the time of Essex's
>disobedient return from Ireland and his botched coup attempt for having
>published an account of the overthrow of Richard and dedicating it to
>the Earl of Essex, but I believe he was mainly guilty of bad timing. In
>fact, Essex's return from Ireland was likely an attempt to match
>Bolingbroke's return from exile and the uprising an attempt to match
>Bolingbroke's arrest and execution of Bushy, Begot and Bushy. Second
>time as farce, of course.

Mr Grady:

I hope you don't mind my asking a question. I'm a lurker on SHAKSPER,
and not as familiar with this area of literary-historical crossover as
some of your correspondents.  I am interested though in any evidence
that writers of the 1590s were able to comment on political developments
and affairs of state, despite the safeguards in place against it.

The famous passage in Guilpin which seems to parallel Essex and
Bolingbroke (sorry, I haven't access to a copy to quote it at the
moment) has always seemed strange to me, insofar as Guilpin came of the
social class and more importantly, age group, which mainly sympathised
with Essex and his anti-Cecilian stance.  As I understand it, by the
mid-90s you were either for Essex or for Cecil, and being pro-Cecil was
surely a bit careerist, old-Fogeyish and conservative?  Finding an
Inns-a-court young man (cousin of Marston, friend of Donne) with such
unfashionable views - isn't it a bit like finding a university student
in the 60s who despised Che Guevara and wasn't ashamed to support Ted
Heath?

Rita Lamb
 

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