Mary, Countess of Pembroke: poetry, patronage and power

This is, more or less, the text of the talk I gave earlier this month at the Wilton History Festival. Mary, Countess of Pembroke, and her sons William and Philip, were the most influential patrons of the Elizabethan and Jacobean era. Let’s begin with a story to illustrate that assertion. For the moment, we will … Continue reading Mary, Countess of Pembroke: poetry, patronage and power

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Of God and Jonson: theatre history, new things and non-events

I was fortunate to be able to attend some of the superb Before Shakespeare conference at Roehampton last week. I came away with a range of thoughts and ideas, some of which I hope to pursue in one form or another. Perhaps the thing that struck me most, however, was Bill Ingram’s opening talk. Ingram … Continue reading Of God and Jonson: theatre history, new things and non-events

Wilton History Festival: the Countess of Pembroke and her circle

Just a brief post to say I will be speaking at Wilton History Festival on 17 September about the literary circle around Mary Sidney and the power of patronage. For those who don't know, Mary Sidney was the younger sister Philip Sidney and is the Countess of Pembroke for whom he wrote the Arcadia. However, … Continue reading Wilton History Festival: the Countess of Pembroke and her circle

Review: Shakespeare in London by Hannah Crawforth, Sarah Dustagheer and Jennifer Young

This review first appeared in the August 2015 issue of History Today. The world might be forgiven for rolling its eyes at the prospect of another book on Shakespeare. Does Shakespeare in London, the latest addition to the Bloomsbury Arden list,  have anything new to say? The answer is a confident yes. Shakespeare in London … Continue reading Review: Shakespeare in London by Hannah Crawforth, Sarah Dustagheer and Jennifer Young

Country Life, Shakespeare and midsummer madness

Like most people, I suspect, I was surprised by the news that someone had discovered a contemporary portrait of Shakespeare. And bemused, too, that they would chose to reveal the fact in Country Life. My heart sank, though, when I saw that the case relied on ciphers. I am sure there are carefree souls for … Continue reading Country Life, Shakespeare and midsummer madness

Shakespeare, the Blackfriars and the theatre of experience

It has always bemused me that there is so little formal – or, for that matter, informal – dialogue and collaboration between historians and literary scholars. Each are aware of the others’ work, certainly; but the intellectual, cultural and administrative inheritances that maintain the academic silos of schools and faculties surely seem increasingly outdated in … Continue reading Shakespeare, the Blackfriars and the theatre of experience

The Massacre At Paris: Kit Marlowe, the Rose Playhouse and me

As some friends may know, I spent last week acting in the final six performances of The Dolphin’s Back production of Christopher Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris at the Rose Playhouse on London’s South Bank. The offer to do so came out of the blue, so much so that - as much out of surprise … Continue reading The Massacre At Paris: Kit Marlowe, the Rose Playhouse and me