The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.0648 Tuesday, 14 July 1998.
Date: Tuesday, July 14, 1998
Subject: New on the SHAKSPER Fileserver: SERGEANT SHAKSPER
As of today, SHAKSPEReans may retrieve Joe Conlon's essay "Would You
Believe . . . 'Sergeant Shakespeare'?" (SERGEANT SHAKSPER) from the
SHAKSPER file server.
To retrieve "Would You Believe . . .'Sergeant Shakespeare'?", send a
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Of his essay, Joe Conlon writes,
This is my first posting as a new member of the list. I am offering a
paper I've written for criticism and comment (and for a little help in
researching for a historical novel if possible). The basic hypothesis
for the paper is that Shakespeare was in either the army or the navy
during the Armada summer of 1588 and that is how and why he moved to
London from Stratford. Obviously, since the time period involved is the
dark years, there is not much documentary material out there that I've
been able to find. I am working on a historical novel and want to use
this hypothesis to get Will to London (if it stands up to scrutiny).
I'm trying to find historical, archival, and documentary evidence on any
real characters who may have been Justices of the peace, Constables, or
nobles involved in the recruiting for the crisis of 1588 in the
Stratford and Warwickshire areas. If anyone on the list can help point
me to some good resources, it would be greatly appreciated. I also
invite criticism and discussion over the attached paper.
Joe Conlon, Warsaw, IN, USA
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Would You Believe..."Sergeant Shakespeare"?
Joe Conlon, 11 July 1998
On February 2, 1585, William Shakespeare's twins Hamnet and Judith were
baptized in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-Upon-Avon. In 1592 the
poet Robert Greene alluded to Shakespeare in his pamphlet "A Groatsworth
of Wit Bought With a Million of Repentance." The period between these
two dates is known as the "Lost Years" or "The Dark Years" because of
the total lack of hard evidence as to what William Shakespeare was doing
during this time. Sometime during this period he left home, wife, and
three children in Stratford and began his stage career in London.
Scholars have long attempted to determine how and why this decision was
made, and countless theories have been proposed. It is my hypothesis
that Shakespeare, like countless other Englishmen, was caught up in the
national crisis caused by the threat of the Spanish Armada during the
summer of 1587 and was either drafted into the militia or volunteered
for duty to protect his homeland from the threat of foreign invasion.
In short, he became a soldier, was posted to the London area, and was
discharged when the threat was ended. Once the boy had seen the big
city, it is hard to send him back to the farm.