And so we come to the end of the second full year of this blog. Many thanks to those of you who’ve continued to pursue it thus far. For the past six months you’ve actually been more attentive than I have, having been preoccupied with moving and other personal situations. I’m gratified to see how, even without much input from me, many continue to read the blogs and pages that have accumulated over the past two years. Much remains to be investigated, and much that’s been investigated remains to be told, so we’re far from done.
Actually my silence over the past two months has had more to do with time taken to research areas that I’ve spent less time on in the past, primarily the 1590s, which is, after all, when the name Shakespeare actually began to appear in print. They aren’t nearly as much fun to put together as the 1580s, when our heroes––Oxford, Marlowe, Bacon and Mary Sidney––bursting with youthful zest, launched the London Stage and commercial press. Nevertheless, the ’90s are the crux, the very heart, of the Gordian knot that is the story of the English Literary Renaissance.
Many sorrowful strands make up this knot, each twisted into and overlapping the others: Oxford in his forties, down on his luck, looking to the young Earl of Southampton to put him back in business; Mary Pembroke defining and publishing her dead brother’s work; Marlowe’s assassination and Lord Strange’s murder; Bacon gnashing his teeth at the Establishment that kept refusing to hire him; the great Queen aging and lonely, while above, tracing its astonishing trajectory and casting its shadow on everything else, the amazing story of the young Earl of Essex continues to unfold as his supporters and enemies alike hold their breath, waiting to see how it will end. It’s taking time to work through this material, and will take even more to condense it into a few sufficiently cogent blogs and pages.
Meanwhile I’ve managed to get a few pages up on other topics. There’s now some background on the impact of the Protestant Reformation on the English Renaissance. In anticipation of more detail on Fisher’s Folly, there’s a paragraph on each of the names that make up most lists of the University Wits and also a brief summary of the major events and personalities of the 1580s. Added to the list of lectures and articles from former years I’ve added Southampton’s Hair. Written originally to deal with the idea put forth by some Oxfordians that the Earl of Southampton was heralded with unusual vigor at Court, something that now seems less certain (most of it based on Peele’s “Honour of the Garter,” which when examined seems not all that exceptional). In any case, it touches on an area of some interest to those readers focussed on Southampton.
And for those who might wish to make it easier to continue my research I’ve come up with a way that you can help. Should you wish to do so, I do thank you with all my heart.
Finally, for our memories of those “precious friends hid in death’s dateless night,” we paid a heavy price this year. Remembering Robert Brazil, Richard Roe, Verily Anderson and Elliott Stone, let’s hope that wherever they are, they’re learning things still hidden from the rest of us, and that in that grand and glorious library in the hereafter, young and healthy once again, that they run into each other from time to time and remind each other of the good old days here below.
And for those of us yet remaining, a most happy and healthful 2011.