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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: March ::
Shakespeare and Racing
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0494  Thursday, 17 March 2005

From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Thursday, 17 Mar 2005 00:58:09 -0800
Subject:        Shakespeare and Racing: Two Items

1.  Some subscribers are probably aware that a horse named Royal
Shakespeare has been racing in England--a horse that was, says the
Telegraph, "arguably the best British novice last year."  This has
resulted in Google News headlines that have given me pause:  "Culotty
Set for Shakespeare Ride" (GG Racing) and "Shakespeare No Forlorn Hope"
(Sportinglife.com).  (Google News is such a patient comber that I have
also learned of a recent murder victim named Letitia Shakespeare.)

2.  A query last Friday on the H-Albion list about whether Shakespeare
(the man) knew anything of racing produced a thread with various quotes,
statistics, historical summary, discussion of Richard III's Jockey of
Norfolk (John Howard, Duke of Norfolk) and Puritan attitudes toward
racing, and even Sh. authorship speculation.
Here I give some of the substance of the thread, which may be found at
http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=lx&list=H-Albion&user=&pw=&month=050

Some references mentioned:

Anthony Dent, _Horses in Shakespeare's England_ (London:  Allen, 1987)

M.M. Reese, _The Royal Office of Master of the Horse_ (London:
Threshold, 1976)

J. B. Muir, _W. T. Frampton and the 'Dragon': A Refutation of the Charge
Made By His Critics, Together with a List of Places Where Horse-Racing
Took Place From the Roman Epoch, Through Each Reign Down to the Date of
Queen Anne_ ('published by the author at his Sporting Fine Art Gallery,
34 Wardour Street, London, W.', 1895)

Edward Topsell, _Historie of Foure-Footed Beasts_ (1607)

As racing did not become popular until later in the 17th century, Dent
wrote (Ch. 15), "You can scrape the barrel till you come to the
splinters but you will not find more than a handful of references to
this pastime throughout Shakespeare's works":  Imogen in Cymbeline
(3.2.72-74:  "I have heard of riding wagers / Where horses have been
nimbler than the sands / That run i' th' clock's behalf") and Hermione
in Winter's Tale (1.2.96-98:  "You may ride's / With one soft kiss a
thousand furlongs ere / With spur we heat [race over] an acre") plus a
faint allusion in Hamlet (1.3.108-09).

However, one post noted, "There are 58 references to 'horses' in
Shakespeare and 211 to 'horse' (incl. mounted soldiers)."

The Muir book, apparently quite authoritative, lists these venues for at
least occasional races in Sh.'s time:

Henry VIII:  Chester (1511), Greenwich, Eltham, Windsor (also York, 1530).
Mary I:  Garterley Moor.
Elizabeth I:  Garterley Moor, Bellman Lawn, Borough Marsh, Carlisle,
Croydon, Doncaster, Grasmere, Langanbye ("Styled 'The Great Horse Course
of the North'"), Richmond, Salisbury, St. James Park, York (also Berwick
and across Scotland).
James I:  Brackley, Durham (and others after 1616).

Incidentally, the original query had asked about *Shakesphere*.  That's
rather good.

Cheers,
Al Magary

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