The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.084  Friday, 17 January 2003

From:           James Conlan <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Thursday, 16 Jan 2003 23:11:58 +0000
Subject: 14.065 Re: Shakespeare and Research
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.065 Re: Shakespeare and Research

We should have no doubts about Shakespeare's access to books.  As a Lord
Chamberlain's Man and as a Groom of the King's Chamber, Shakespeare
would have likely enjoyed the privilege of using the royal library, an
institution that had been administered through the chamber accounts
since the Middle Ages.  Shakespeare would not have been the first to
parlay this access into a successful literary career.  Other poets who
had access were Sir John Clanvowe as gentleman of the chamber under
Edward III and Richard II; Chaucer; John Skelton (Henry VIII's Latin
Stephen Hawes, etc.  See Richard Firth Green, _Poets and
Princepleasers_.  In Shakespeare's case, it seems that the Bard repaid
his access with the dedication of his sonnets; his literary executors
followed up his gratitude with the dedication of the first folio.

As far as Shakespeare's access to higher education, we might do well to
expand our understanding of Shakespeare's possibilities beyond the
geographical limits of England: most scholars have assumed that since
Shakespeare did not attend Oxford or Cambridge that he had only a
grammar school education and perhaps a practical education in the law as
a scrivener of sorts.  However, as the scion of recusant gentry,
Shakespeare had both the means and the motive to study abroad.
Education abroad would have resulted in a knowledge of Italian and
French language, culture, and the specifics of geography, in addition to
nautical language -- exactly that sort of education that
anti-Stratfordians say he lacked.  Had past Shakespeareans been willing
to entertain a more flexible understanding of Shakespeare's biography,
there would have been little need to invent an anti-Stratfordian
hypothesis to explain the identity of the author of Shakespeare's plays.

Best to all,
JP Conlan

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