Tag Archives: elizabethan

Shakespeare’s arch enemy?

This post and some links in it contain advertisements for my books.

While I was researching for Rival Poet, I ran across a really interesting article by David Kathman about Shakespeare’s Stratford acquaintance Richard Field. The article makes a compelling case for Shakespeare getting some help as a green playwright just arrived in London.

Field was the son of a Stratford tanner, and he was three years older than Will. They probably went to school together for a while, and then in 1579, Field went to London to be a printer’s apprentice. When his master died, he took over the business together with the widow. Among the books he printed, there are several that may have been used as sources by Shakespeare. He also printed Shakespeare’s first poems, Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece. Therefore it’s not a big leap to assume that they knew each other.

However, many who acknowledge this connection routinely paint printer Field as a friend, and I wanted to do something different. After all, there are thousands of books about Shakespeare, so if you do embark on yet another story, you need your own twist. Add to this that every story needs a villain.

Therefore I decided that Dick Field wasn’t really a friend, but a childhood enemy, a bully who almost stopped Will from writing at all. While staying true to the known facts, I made Dick a different kind of catalyst for the budding poet, hopefully resulting in a more interesting plot.


The rope cut into his throat. Not tightly enough to choke him, but not loosely either. Dick took a step back and surveyed his work. “So, Willie… you going to tell Master Jenkins about this, then?”

Will tried to shake his head, but stopped when the rope chafed at his neck.

“That’s right, because I know for a fact that our teacher hasn’t been to church for… what is it, six Sundays in a row? Naughty, naughty…” Dick laughed. His minions joined in. “If you think that godless man will help you, you’re in for a disappointment.”

Will’s mind was racing too fast. He was tied to a tree and couldn’t move, so his only way out of this was through words. But what words? What could he say that would melt the stony heart of the tanner’s son?

Blurting the first thing he could think of, he said, “I’m not like Master Jenkins.” The words hurt his throat. “I’m not a recusant.”

At once, Dick’s eyes narrowed. With a sickening twist of the stomach, Will knew that he had made a mistake, but it was too late to take it back.

“You think you’re pretty smart, don’t you? Re-cu-sant. Wow. Good boy, to know such fancy words. Just like Master Jenkins. You’d make a lovely couple, you would.”

Dick’s fist landed in Will’s belly. Completely unprepared for the blow, Will’s bound body tried to double over, and his spine slammed into the tree trunk.

“Well, we can’t have men marrying boys in a proper God-fearing town like Stratford,” Dick sighed, feigning remorse. “Sodomy is a capital offence, you know. We’ll just have to hang, draw and quarter you. So tell me, Willie, before you die…” Dick took his deformed hand and caressed it almost lovingly. “Do you think Master Jenkins will cry when his star pupil is gone?” He lowered his voice to a raucous whisper. “Or do you think he’ll be relieved?”

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Shakespeare and Marlowe, star-crossed lovers?

This post and some links in it contain advertisements for my books.

DSC_0108_02Well, what do you know? When I fed the birth data of William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe into the online astrology service Astrodienst, this was the result (taken from the free sample):

“A relationship with composite Sun in the tenth house is likely to be a significant one. First of all, this position indicates that the two of you have an identity of purpose in your lives together, or at least that you are able to help each other attain the goals you have set for yourselves. If this relationship goes anywhere at all, it will have a strong effect on your life purpose. The composite Moon in the tenth house indicates that you will share a concern for getting ahead in life. You both want to get somewhere, and you feel that together you can do it better than you could separately.

The conjunction of composite Jupiter and Ascendant is a very good aspect for any kind of relationship. Jupiter here helps to ensure a positive relationship. In a business or professional association, this aspect indicates financial success. In a personal relationship, it allows the two of you to feel good about each other and about yourselves as a couple. You will find that being together broadens your range of experience, and together you will discover new aspects of the world that will help you grow as human beings.”

Wow… this mirrors my take on these two playwrights exactly! They are more than lovers, more than colleagues. They become more together than they could be on their own. It’s hardly possible to separate their love-making from their work, because it’s all bound up and wound up in each other. Theirs really is a “marriage of true minds”. It’s the perfect union, both on a personal and a career level.


“The conjunction of composite Moon and composite Venus is a most positive aspect for any personal relationship. It indicates a strong feeling of love between you that you will express openly. The relationship may even have something of a dreamy quality, as if it were too beautiful to be true. The basic inner strength of this relationship should be great enough to overcome all but the worst problems. In general, this is one of the most positive and useful aspects that a composite chart can have for a successful personal relationship.

The conjunction of composite Saturn and Ascendant can have several very different effects, depending on other factors in the relationship. On the positive level, it can signify a relationship that is bound together so strongly that almost nothing can break it up. This is not so much because there is a positive attraction between you as because you are intensely involved with each other in a way that seems strongly predestined.”

Yep. 🙂 These two are nothing if not soul mates. In a world where sodomy is a capital offence and where everything that’s written and performed on the stage must be run by the Queen’s censor, Will and Kit can only find true understanding in a fellow poet. They are mirror images of each other, one born to a cobbler, and the other one to a glover, both in the same year (1564), and, possibly, the same date in different months*.


“Your experience of love within this relationship will very strongly affect the lives of both of you. On the psychological level, this relationship will aid both of you in discovering what you want to do with your lives. Loving each other should reinforce you and give you greater confidence in yourselves. At the same time, this relationship will teach you about the nature of love and how you relate to others on an intimate personal level. The only way you can learn what living with another person means is by doing so.”

Well, this is where it gets difficult, because in Elizabethan times, you couldn’t just go ahead and marry the person you loved. On the other hand, men often housed together, even slept in the same bed, to save money. It was a fine line to tread, and while Kit may have been devil-may-care, Will was more careful. In Rival Poet, he’s the one who insists on absolute secrecy. He does it to protect the two of them, but instead it contributes to the largest challenge in their life together-apart.

But in the end, as you can see from their chart, nothing can keep them apart. These two face some of the biggest hurdles of all my characters, but the reward at the end is worth it.

* There are no records of their exact birth dates, but judging from the dates of their baptism, they could be born on February and April 23.