Week 7: North’s Marginal Notes (His Personal Workbook for Early 1590s Plays)

On March 29, 1591, Thomas North purchased a used, 1582-edition of his Dial of Princes for 5 shillings, signing the back and dating the purchase—a copy now kept at the Cambridge University Library.[1] Then he began rereading or skimming certain sections, skipping from here to there, underscoring certain lines and passages, and adding various notesContinue reading “Week 7: North’s Marginal Notes (His Personal Workbook for Early 1590s Plays)”

36-42: Borrowed Lines and Phrases

For the last 35 entries, we have posted detailed examples of Shakespearean speeches and exchanges that derive from passages originally written by North. But some prefer to just compare the borrowed lines and phrases together — one after the other –with no further explanation. They find this more compelling. So every day this week, weContinue reading “36-42: Borrowed Lines and Phrases”

Week Five: North’s Stories in the Canon

As we have seen in prior weeks (including with the borrowings from North in the tragedies, in the English Histories, and those related to North’s journal), characters will frequently recite the humanist wisdom and political metaphors found in North’s earlier writings. For example, when Iago observes that the thief of temporal riches does less harmContinue reading “Week Five: North’s Stories in the Canon”

Week Four: The Roman Adaptations

While many of Shakespeare’s borrowings derive from North’s translations, it is important to stress that it was North’s particular English wording that so captured the attention of the playwright—not the French, Italian, and Spanish words of the original author. Indeed, North frequently veered from the original foreign text to rework it into his own masterfulContinue reading “Week Four: The Roman Adaptations”

Week Three: The English Histories

The main reason that the Shakespeare canon includes so many histories is that Thomas North was an historian and believed that histories constituted the most vital component of an enlightened education. His work on Plutarch’s Lives in the 1570’s especially taught him something new and important about the character of leaders and its relationship toContinue reading “Week Three: The English Histories”

Week Two: North’s Journal, “Henry VIII,” and “The Winter’s Tale”

In Thomas North’s 1555 Travel Journal: From Italy to Shakespeare (2021), June Schlueter and I explore a newly rediscovered journal that the 20-year-old North kept during his trip to Rome. The young translating playwright had travelled with an embassy sent by the Catholic Queen Mary, who had wanted a formal reconciliation of England with the pope. NorthContinue reading “Week Two: North’s Journal, “Henry VIII,” and “The Winter’s Tale””