The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0259  Wednesday, 20 June 2012


[1] From:        David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         June 19, 2012 12:27:54 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself 


[2] From:        Scot Zarela <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

     Date:         June 19, 2012 12:48:36 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re:  Himself 




From:        David Basch <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 19, 2012 12:27:54 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Himself


While I have no opinion on John Briggs suggestion of roles which Shakespeare may or may not have taken in his plays, (HIMSELF), I am open to his suggestions. However, I do have a comment on the name Falstaff, which emerged as the poet’s final choice as the name of this character that followed all evidence of preceding selections proposed.


Concerning the name Falstaff, I would in the end refer to the surprise that Peter Levi mentioned in his book, The Life and Times of William Shakespeare. He noted that in an English court record of an inheritance given to John Shakespeare from his father, Richard, John was referred to as “Johannem Shakere.” (Levi was at a loss to explain it.) The relevance of this to the name Falstaff could lie in that the word, “shakere,” which in Hebrew means “false”—the word occurring exactly as “shakere” in the Hebrew of the Ninth Commandment against bearing “false witness” (“eyde shakere”).


Thus, the name Falstaff with the prefix, “Fals,” could be an allusion to the name “Shakere” and, coupled with “staff,” to the name, Shakespeare (Shak-staff or Shak-shaft). It could be telling that the character of John Falstaff may have very well been built on that of the poet’s father, John.  In life, John may have had many of the engaging traits of the literary representation of John Falstaff in the plays.


That the name Shakere has some significance for the Shakespeares is further suggested by the family’s Coat of Arms, originally sought by John Shakespeare. In this is represented a FALcon, which could account for the prefix of FALstaff. But another name for the falcon used in falconry was “saker”—check on it in a dictionary—the latter a name too close to “Shakere” to be dismissed as irrelevant.


In this fashion, we find a double allusion that the letters “FALS,” one to the prefix in “FALcon” and the other to “false” carried by “shak” as an abbreviation of “Shakere” with its Hebrew meaning as “false.”


So if factual allusions are being sought to the historic Shakespeare—which is being sought by attempting to couple the poet with roles he may have taken on in his plays—it seems that the name Falstaff itself could be conveying direct historical information, some concerning the poet’s father and some telling how the poet uses the character of those around him as prototypes for representations in his plays.


What is more, imagine the delight that the poet would have had in playing a character that conveyed aspects of the character of his own father.


David Basch



From:        Scot Zarela <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 19, 2012 12:48:36 PM EDT

Subject:     Re:  Himself


The reasons John Briggs supplies are interesting, all right, but also troubling. It seems that Sir Toby is a large role, and is like the role of Falstaff: and we are to credit Shakespeare himself not only with writing but also with playing those roles. Why, exactly? Shakespeare is “large,” to us, but we don’t know who else may have been on the scene.


Then there’s a possible pun in Falstaff’s name: but must we believe that if a playwright puns on his own name, the pun itself can’t be the end of the matter? What bridge of necessity leads Shakespeare to play a role just because he punned?


Is there anything at all to back up the “suggestions that Shakespeare played clown-ish roles”?


I’m more troubled to see Shakespeare credited with playing such a great number of roles in his plays. I can allow him the Player King in Hamlet; but then must he also take Polonius, the Ghost, and the Gravedigger too? Tradition holds that he was loved by the players of his day: not if he single-handedly kept so many of them out of employment!


CFP: Shakespeare Jahrbuch


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0258  Wednesday, 20 June 2012


From:        Kareen Seidler <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 20, 2012 5:01:56 AM EDT

Subject:     CFP: Shakespeare Jahrbuch


Call for Papers – Shakespeare Jahrbuch 2014


The 2014 volume of Shakespeare Jahrbuch will be a special issue devoted to “Money and Power”.


Karl Marx thought that “Shakespeare excellently depicted the real nature of money”. Indeed, money plays a central role in Shakespeare’s works: monetary transactions and the exchange of goods, bonds and loans, greed and expenditure, wealth and debt are themes of his plays and poems and provide the sources for their imagery. The language of money permeates the language of love; purses and coins circulate and merchants and moneylenders shape the plot: “To be or not to be” is determined by assets and economic transactions. The shepherd Corin in As You Like It is well aware that “he that wants money, means and content is without three good friends”, and yet wealth is not always a blessing in Shakespeare. His plays react to the economic upheavals in early modern times and they interrogate the inherent moral, religious and political implications. Early modern poetry and drama are simultaneously bound up in economic networks and the underlying power relations of patronage and the corporate structure of London’s theaters.


Analyzing the relationship between “money and power” in Shakespeare is particularly pertinent at a time when debt crises, the influence of financial markets and the divide between rich and poor dominate world politics.

The editorial board of Shakespeare Jahrbuch invites essays on the following topics:


  • Money and power in Shakespeare’s plays
  • Representations of poverty and wealth
  • The circulation of money and goods on the early modern stage
  • Shakespeare and the debate on usury
  • Money and love – monetary and affective economies
  • Shakespeare’s negotiation of early modern economic discourses
  • Shakespeare’s theatre as big business
  • Shakespeare in Political Economy
  • Shakespeare and the debt crisis
  • . . . 

Shakespeare Jahrbuch, the Yearbook of the German Shakespeare Society, is a peer-reviewed journal. It offers contributions in German and English, scholarly articles, an extensive section of book reviews, and reports on Shakespeare productions in the German-speaking world. It also documents the activities of the Shakespeare Society.


Papers to be published in the Shakespeare Jahrbuch should be formatted according to our style sheet.


Please send your manuscripts (of about 6,000 words) to the editor of Shakespeare Jahrbuch, Prof. Dr. Sabine Schülting (email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), by 31 March 2013.


Stratford Lodgings


The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0257  Monday, 18 June 2012


From:        Herbert Weil <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 17, 2012 3:50:50 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER: Stratford Lodgings


It is good to read about Ambleside where we started staying in 1968 when I gave my first talk at the conference. Pam Barnacle ran a superb B&B—and would take nothing, except presents for her children, for watching ours who were 5 and 1.  Her quality was not followed by her immediate successor. All of the B&Bs we stayed in after she retired have either been sold or have stopped taking guests. In 1910, the Falcon matched B&B prices and offered a good lounge in which to read and write.







The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0256  Monday, 18 June 2012


From:        John Briggs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 15, 2012 11:15:12 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: SHAKSPER:  Himself


Scot Zarela wrote:


Is there an interesting reason why John Briggs thinks Sir Toby was played by Shakespeare himself?


Several reasons—but Scot Zarela may not find them interesting . . . 


Sir Toby is a Falstaff character, with the most lines in Twelfth Night (Burbage probably played Orsino.)


Falstaff was the leading character (and the one with the most lines) in Wives, which was probably the preceding play (and Burbage probably played Ford.)


The name Falstaff [“False Staff”] is a pun on Shakespeare [“Shake Spear”, cognate with Wagstaff] – Shakespeare is sending himself up, as well as drawing on aspects of his father, John Shakespeare. (The Falstaff of 1H6 was originally Fastolf.) This would make the most sense if Shakespeare himself played Falstaff (formerly Oldcastle.)


There are suggestions that Shakespeare played clown-ish roles (this may have been where he started.) Armin played Hugh Evans in Wives and Feste in TN. Falstaff was never an actual clown’s role: Kemp was probably the original (H4) Bardolph.


I would suggest that Wives was the play performed at Court on Twelfth Night, 1601 in the presence of Duke Virginio Orsini. Elizabeth may or may not have specifically requested seeing Sir John in love . . . 


The play immediately preceding Wives was Hamlet. Some of its themes (dead male relatives, duels etc.) are burlesqued in TN.


Shakespeare probably played Polonius in Hamlet (to Burbage’s Hamlet) - as well as the Gravedigger and/or the Player. The jury is still out on whether he played the Ghost.


The play immediately preceding Hamlet was Julius Caesar, where Burbage played Brutus and Shakespeare played Caesar (as well as his ghost . . . )


The play immediately preceding Julius Caesar was Henry V – where Falstaff notoriously failed to make an appearance. This play may or may not have been performed at Court, in the Cockpit at Whitehall (“Can this cockpit hold / The vasty fields of France?”) before it was performed there on the day after Twelfth Night, 1605.


John Briggs




The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0255  Monday, 18 June 2012


From:        Gerald E. Downs <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         June 17, 2012 6:44:31 PM EDT

Subject:     Phila(bu)ster


When Gabriel Egan suggests that shorthand theory could be decided by particular textual passages, I’m willing to offer some. Hypotheses are best served by convergent, supportive inferences; but that’s what test cases will provide anyhow.


Michael J. Hirrel recently argued in RES that the “Roberts Memoranda” on a fly-leaf of the Stationers’ Register is not indicative, as most have supposed, of an alliance between publisher James Roberts and the Lord Chamberlain’s Company, but an attempt to keep Roberts himself from publishing rights to the plays in question. Hirrel’s analysis is very good, though his story of playtext acquisition is entirely speculative. He does show players tried to protect their property. They often failed; a skip into other decades tells the same tale.


Philip Herbert (Earl of P & M, etc.) in 1637 wrote to the Stationers’ Company to remind it of his brother’s earlier complaints that playbooks were published against the players’ interests and that they “had . . . much corruption.” It was happening again; plays “having been lately stollen or gotten . . . by indirect means . . .”


If the reference is to William Herbert’s 1619 letter reported by Malone, it wasn’t too effective even then; Beaumont’s & Fletcher’s Drama (BFD) Philaster, a bad quarto of the first order, was registered in January of 1620. Thomas Walkley’s preface to the 1622 second edition speaks of “dangerous and gaping wounds . . . received in the first Impression.”


Scholars have never quite figured this out. Most ignore the play; editors are at a loss, despite the fact that Q2 benefits from better copy, though (as usual) Q2 is a partial reprint of the corrupt Q1. I think Q1 is pretty clearly a theatrical report. A late reader agreed that my “argument for shorthand reporting in Philaster is essentially sound,” though she didn’t care for my style; so much for publication. But the question is important after all (no matter who does the thinking). I’ll rerun a passage here, as a convincing example of shorthand reporting and to shed more light on the larger question.


When editor Robert K. Turner investigated Philaster, though “memorial contamination” occurs in “special circumstances,” he felt his description weighed against a report, “even one of an extraordinary species.” But he didn’t consider shorthand:


> Between 1619 and 1622 five plays belonging to the King’s

> Men were published—The Maid’s Tragedy (1619), A King

> and No King (1619), Philaster (1620), Thierry and Theodoret

> (1621), and Othello (1622). All these first editions, except

Thierry and Theodoret, were succeeded within a few years

> by second editions in which the texts were materially altered.

> All except The Maid’s Tragedy were published by Walkley. It

> is natural . . . to think of these texts as being somehow related,

> although the nature of the relationship is at present unknown

> . . . . None of these texts is as corrupt as Philaster Q1, but . . .

> it is possible that Walkley garnered five scribal copies which

> may have differed considerably in physical state but have

> come into being under the same or similar circumstances."


Turner’s insight is limited by “New Bibliography” preoccupation with memorial reconstruction—by one or two actors, or whole-cast—as the only species of reporting. When corruption in Philaster supports neither form, evidence of memorial transmission is laid to foul papers, scribes, or to dictation. But if Philaster is read in the shorthand light one may conclude it is reported.


Laurie E. Maguire recently diagnosed Philaster as “not memorial reconstruction,” by her criteria denying reporting of any kind. Her method dismisses the decisive evidence of Philaster’s second edition (Q2, 1622), which prior scholarship recognizes as necessary to understanding the origins of Q1. Without comparison to Q2, a probe of the Q1 wounds can’t divulge the repetitions, omissions, or insertions. Jerome W. Hughes, however, asserts from Q2 evidence that Q1


> mishears, substitutes, and omits words, phrases, and

> lines. Q1 is redundant, expanding the text by the

> introduction of exclamations, nouns of address, and

> connective words. Q1 distorts the meaning of numerous

> passages by attempted paraphrase, often missing the

> authors' subtleties and rhetorical effectiveness. Q1 is

> frequently confused by stage action and misassigns many

> speeches. Q1 transposes and repeats words . . .

> apparently resulting from the confusion caused by similar

> content and construction within the same or another speech

> . . . . Q1 simplifies. Occasionally Q1 anticipates a word or

> phrase. Q1 changes verse to prose, prose to verse, and

> evidences mislineation in almost every speech . . . .

> (Jerome William Hughes, "A Textual Study of Beaumont and

> Fletcher’s Philaster" unpub. U. of Iowa diss. (1948), 22-3.)


Here are two passages. Hughes’s analysis of fifty-seven extracts (or anyone’s close comparison) should satisfy skeptics that Q1 Philaster derives memorially from text closely related to Q2:


Phi. You will not kill me then?

Boy. Kill you,

Prin. Not for the world.

Phi. I blame not thee Bellario, thou hast done but that

Which gods would haue transformd themselues to do,

Be gone, leaue me without reply, this is the last             Exit Boy.

Of all our meetings, kill me with this sword, be wise,

Or worse will follow, we are two, earth cannot beare at once, resolue to do or suffer.

Prin. If my fortune be so good to let me fall vpon thy hand,

I shall haue peace with earth;

Yet tell me this, there will be no slanders, no iealousie, in the other world no il here?

Phi. No.

Prin. Shew me the way to ioy.

Phi. Then guide my feeble hand, you that haue power

To do it, for I must performe a piece of Iustice:

If your youth haue any way offended heauen,

Let prayers short and effectual, reconcile you to't.

Prin. I am prepard,    Enter a Countrey Gallant.

Covn. I will see the king if he be in the Forrest,

I haue hunted him this two houres, if I should come home,

And not see him, my sisters would laugh at me,

I can see nothing but people, better horst then my selfe,

That out ride me, I can heare nothing but shouting,

These kings had neede of strong braines,

The whooping would put a man out of his wits:

Theres a Courtier with his sword drawne, by this hand vpon a woman, I thinke.

Phi. Are you at peace?        Phy. wounds her.

Prin. With heauen and earth.

Phi. Nay, they diuide thy soule and body.

                (Q1, 4.3.56ff [G3v])

   Phi. You will not kill me then?

   Ara. Kill you?

   Bell. Not for the world.

   Phi.  I blame not thee,

Bellario: thou hast done but that, which Gods

Would haue transform’d themselues to doe: be gone,

Leaue me without reply: this is the last          Exit Bell.

Of all our meeting. Kill me with this sword;

Be wise, or worse will follow; we are two

Earth cannot beare at once. Resolue to doe,

Or suffer.

   Ara. If my fortune be so good, to let me fall

Vpon they hand, I shall haue peace in death.

Yet tell me this, there will be no slanders,

No Iealousie in the other world, no ill there?

   Phi. No.

   Ara. Shew me then the way.

   Phi. Then guide

My feeble hand, you that haue the power to doe it,

For I must performe a peece of Iustice. If your youth

Haue any way offended heauen, let prayers

Short, and effectual, reconcile you to it.

   Ara. I am prepared.   Enter a country fellow.

   Coun. I'le see the King, if he be in the forrest, I haue hunted him

these two houres : if I should come home and not see him, my sisters

would laugh at me: I can see nothing but people better horst then

then my selfe, that out ride me; I can heare nothing but showting.

These Kings had need of good braines, this whooping is able to

put a meane man out of his wits. There's a Courtier with his sword

drawne, by this hand vpon a woman, I think.

  Phi. Are you at peace?

  Ara. With heauen and earth.

  Phi. May they diuide thy soule and body.

                    (Q2, 4.3.56ff, [H3])


Q1 verse is mislined and the “country gallant” prose is printed as verse. Q1 omits (“meane”), adds (“to ioy”), and substitutes (“strong”). Hughes observes that Q1 alteration of Q2’s “peace in death” to “peace on earth” anticipates “With heaven and earth.” Compositors can’t commit such error when anticipated words or concepts are far from a mistaken insertion. Generic prefixes (“Boy” and “Princ.”) indicate dependence on dialogue for names. Though Bellario is identified in Act 2 and Arathusa is named near the end of Act 3, generic headings are kept until Bellario is designated in the last full page.


However, the courtiers and ladies must be differentiated. Bordeaux’s stenographer (call him a hypothesis if you like) marked changes of speakers but speech headings waited on transcription. Maguire reports of another suspect text “a great number of errors in [speech prefixes], (13 in all).” Q1 Philaster misassigns five times as many speeches, none noticed by Maguire. This play, by itself, shows how mistaken she is to forgo comparison to second texts.


Memorial reconstruction is stymied by the evidence. Turner sees “no indication in Q1 of a specific reporter or reporters”; the “variants from Q2 are scattered throughout passages assigned to all characters.” Turner suggests that prefix error occurred during dictation by principal players but he ultimately rejects communal reporting. Hughes suggests “Thrasiline” as a reporter, though it is hard “to account for the fact that fourteen of his speeches are misassigned.” He cites Kirschbaum on the futility of discovering the reporter’s identity. The evidence points to Q1 transmission by shorthand, where prefix mixups are inevitiable. There’s no reason to blame dictating / reconstructing actors, authors, or scribes for the confusion. In the example above, with two characters to choose, “Kill you” and “Not for the world” are misassigned. Elsewhere, courtiers Lyon, Trasaline, and Cleremon are given each other’s lines willy-nilly; few characters are left out of the mix-ups:


Q2 (I2 33–37, I2v 1–2):               Q1 (H2v 30–35):


K. Is the villaine taine.                  King. Is the villaine tane?

Pha. Sir, there be two . . .            Leon. Sir, . .

Phi. Question it no more, it was.   King. Question it no more,…

K.  The fellow that did fight…        Pha. The fellow…

Ara. Ay me, I know he will.           Princ. Ay me, I know him well.

K. Did not you know him?             King. Did not you know him?

With many players "on stage" the Q1 lines are dealt out: Leon (instead of Pharamond) replies to the King, who is assigned Philaster's admission; Pharamond asks the King’s question before the Princess’s inaccurate aside. Corruption so extensive is not explained by a “common habit of copying the dialogue first and adding the speakers’ names later.” Bordeaux’s misassigned speeches take on added importance by extrapolation from clear instances in Philaster. That might be said of other evidence if a bias against theatrical reporting were not evident (as in the Philaster scholarship). Although Ashley Thorndike concluded more than a century ago that the body of Q1 was “based on a copy made by some scribe in the audience,” editors ignore shorthand. Hughes (“convenient and interesting”) rejects it for familiar reasons; he thinks theorists assume one can differentiate “substitutions made by the actors and those made by the reporter.” Much evidence allows of no distinction, though some might. More tellingly, shorthand allows errors of stenographers, actors, and other agents to coexist: actors’ anticipations aren’t stenographer’s doings, though they easily misassign speeches. Transcription explains neither kind of evidence.


Hughes also believes that published systems were the only systems, and he asserts that shorthand “does not account for the differences between the two quartos.” Reports of imperfect performances need only to accommodate, not to account for imperfection. Still, Hughes finds the implication unlikely that the “best actors of the day,” with sixteen roles, performed only three minor parts at a high level. Part-perfect players are imaginary, yet even when Hughes determines that “whoever reported Philaster was fairly accurate,” he can’t imagine this text as a performance. But histories of line-accuracy may only be found in reports suspected because of their corruptions, or in “not-so-good” texts transmitted by “bad” methods. Bordeaux’s self-evident phonetic accuracy predicts that some well-performed plays are well-reported and “cur’d” (authoritatively or not) to seem “perfect of their limbes.”


If Philaster is accepted as a theatrical report the question is whether other Walkley Quartos “somehow relate” to stenography. All agree on Q1 inferiority, and Turner is convinced “that the Q2 annotator worked from authoritative papers.” Yet a corrupt text was good enough to allow Q2 compositors their indulgence in a trade preference for printed copy over manuscript copy. Turner believes that an annotated Q1 exemplar served the purpose; Gurr agrees that contamination “of Q2 by Q1 must be acknowledged.” Dramatic editions use bad copy similarly elsewhere, which indicates a less-than-total interest in repairs (and lack of authorial involvement). At times, this circumstance is important.


Because character names stem from dialogue in shorthand reports, spellings may vary more than in scribal copies (Cleramont, Clerimon, Clerimont, Gleremon). Designations can be made up (country gallant). Turner and Gurr may mislead readers with their Q1/Q2 comparisons. Gurr states that “Arethusa and Bellario are named only as ‘Princesse’ and ‘Boy’ until Act 3, and Cleremont and Thrasiline, not mentioned in the text by name at all, appear only as names in stage directions as late as Act 4” (lxxviii). But the beginning and end of Q1 differ considerably from Q2; comparisons are only valid for the “body” of the texts. Q1 begins with Lyon answering a greeting: “Noble friend welcome, and see who encounters vs, honourable good Clerimon”; who replies, “My good Lord Lyon, most happily met worthy [& slippery?] Trasiline.” Q1 dialogue supplies the names at once to the putative (not to me) reporter. It’s odd Q2 fails to identify these important speakers to its presumed audience, yet it assigns their speeches properly.


Shorthand explains these passages; I could have chosen others that do the same. How else can Q1 Philaster have come to be? It proves in turn that repertory actors strayed from their received texts over time. How else could it be?


Gerald E. Downs


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