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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
The Elizabethan Star Chamber
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0439  Wednesday, 9 March 2005

[1]     From:   Holger Schott Syme <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Mar 2005 10:32:22 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber

[2]     From:   Abigail Quart <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Mar 2005 14:31:43 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber

[3]     From:   John W. Kennedy <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 08 Mar 2005 15:46:27 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Holger Schott Syme <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Mar 2005 10:32:22 -0500
Subject: 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber

Sam Small writes --

 >I read somewhere on a website that there was
 >a secret group of writers and other Elizabethan worthies dedicated to
 >the spiritual betterment of the population of London and beyond.  They
 >decided that the way to propagate Christian values was through the
 >common theatres.   They remained in secret so as not to appear to be
 >sermonising.  Shakespeare, Bacon, Marlowe (possibly Oxford) and others
 >were part of this agreement.  My questions are: did this group have a
 >name?  Was it a formal group that met in secret at times?  Is it true
 >that this group existed at all?

This is pure fiction. We have no evidence that Shakespeare and Bacon
even knew each other. The idea that the theatre can serve as a moral
institution is one of the major claims of Heywood's _Apology for Actors_
and lies at the heart of Jonson's (deeply conflicted and
self-contradictory) didactic dramaturgy, but I'm not sure that I would
associate it with Shakespeare. It certainly seems alien to Marlowe's
dramatic enterprise.

Best,
Holger

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Abigail Quart <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Mar 2005 14:31:43 -0500
Subject: 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber

Shakespeare???????? Did they leave a secret code?

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John W. Kennedy <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Mar 2005 15:46:27 -0500
Subject: 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0424 The Elizabethan Star Chamber

Sam Small <
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 >

 >Annoyingly I lost the reference and hesitate to even post this request
 >but the idea intrigues me.  I read somewhere on a website that there was
 >a secret group of writers and other Elizabethan worthies dedicated to
 >the spiritual betterment of the population of London and beyond.  They
 >decided that the way to propagate Christian values was through the
 >common theatres.   They remained in secret so as not to appear to be
 >sermonising.  Shakespeare, Bacon, Marlowe (possibly Oxford) and others
 >were part of this agreement.  My questions are: did this group have a
 >name?  Was it a formal group that met in secret at times?  Is it true
 >that this group existed at all?  This also merges with Marvin Krims
 >enquiry about Shakespeare's personal faith.

This hypothetical cabal is usually (in my experience) referred to as
"The School of Night" (see LLL). The idea may or may not derive from a
passage in "Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare", though he puts a different
spin on it (as a Copernican school headed by, if I recall aright, Raleigh).

I have not encountered the version you give outside of the exhalations
of anti-Stratfordians.

Speaking as someone who is, in fact, a Christian, I find the hypothesis
laughable and even a little offensive (perhaps because, on an unrelated
list, I've just had to point out the scorn Dorothy L. Sayers had for
those who wanted her to make a Christian of Lord Peter Wimsey).

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