2008

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 19.0023  Wednesday, 16 January 2008

From:		Stanley Wells <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:		Monday, 14 Jan 2008 10:15:03 +0000
Subject:	Shakespeare's Religion

Some of the most important contributions in recent years to discussions 
of Shakespeare's religion have been made by my former colleague Dr 
Robert Bearman. He has recently published a substantial article, 'The 
early Reformation Experience in a Warwickshire Market Town: 
Stratford-upon-Avon 1530- 1580' in a journal, Midland History (Vol 
XXXII, 2007, pp. 68-109) which might easily be missed by Shakespeare 
scholars. In it he seeks to establish 'whether, as some recent 
biographers of William Shakespeare have maintained, the town in which he 
spent his formative years was a stronghold of Catholic conservatism, or 
whether his personal experience of traditional religious belief would, 
in fact, have been very limited.' (p. 69) Without wishing to discourage 
anyone from reading the article itself, which is based on a profound 
knowledge of sixteenth-century Stratford, I might mention that in his 
final paragraph he writes 'In his formative years, he would have had no 
experience of the outward trappings of the old faith, and, with no 
reliable evidence that the old faith was nevertheless drummed into him 
by his family, there seems little reason for supposing that they, or 
religious dogma generally, ever meant much, if anything, to him.' (p.109)

Stanley Wells

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