The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.2075 Wednesday, 24 November 1999.
Date: Tuesday, 23 Nov 1999 11:39:54 -0500
Subject: Shakespeare and Milton
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Recent Discoveries Link William Shakespeare to John Milton
Athens, Ohio; November 21, 1999. Discoveries in an article by Professor
Gordon Campbell to be published in the December issue of the Milton
Quarterly reveal the cryptic connections between the lives and careers
of two of the greatest literary geniuses who wrote poetry in English.
The little parish church of Tong, in Shropshire, holds the tomb of
several members of the Stanley Family, one of whom was the Lord Strange
who helped support an acting company of which Shakespeare was a member.
The epitaph printed on the joint tomb of the father Sir Thomas and son
Sir Edward Stanley in Tong is, we are assured, by William Shakespeare,
and family connections between the Earls of Derby in the Stanley family
support the claim.
The Stanley family and the widow of Sir Edward Stanley, Alice Spencer,
Countess Dowager of Derby, were to support Milton's writing in the early
1630s. Lady Alice and her stepson, John Egerton, sponsored Milton's
masques "Arcades" and Comus respectively.
These facts were all known before the recent discoveries by Professor
Campbell. What Campbell has discovered is that Milton's father, a
scrivener and a court composer, was also a trustee of the Blackfriars'
Theatre in 1620; that Shakespeare probably lived in a kind of boarding
house with Thomas Morley, a composer associated with Milton's father and
with music composed for songs in Shakespeare's plays; that Milton's
father may well have written a poem in praise of Shakespeare published
in the First Folio of Shakespeare's works; and that Milton's poem in
memory of Shakespeare has images and rhymes borrowed obviously and with
reverence from Shakespeare's epitaph for the Stanleys. What had been
"sky-aspiring Piramides" in the Stanley epitaph, for instance, becomes
"a Star-ypointing Pyramid" in Milton's "On Shakespeare. 1630."
The business connections between the Miltons and William Shakespeare's
various acting companies and venues, and friends such as Morley, members
of the Burbage theatrical family and Lord Strange and other members of
the Stanley family, together with the poetic evidence in Milton's
borrowing rhymes and images from Shakespeare's epitaph for the Stanleys,
all indicate that Milton was connected to Shakespeare by finances as
well as by poetic heritage.