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Title: A linguistic analysis of Francis Bacon's contribution to three Shakespeare plays : The Comedy Of Errors, Love's Labour's Lost, and The Tempest
Author: Clarke, Barry R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 0451
Awarding Body: Brunel University
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2014
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The aim of this work is to investigate the possibility that Francis Bacon was a contributor in the writing of three Shakespeare plays: The Comedy of Errors, Love’s Labour’s Lost, and The Tempest. In order to proceed, I develop a new Rare Collocation Profiling (RCP) method using Chadwick–Healey’s Early English Books Online (EEBO) database to identify those collocations in a target text that are rare. I then list the probable sources of a target and the writers who possibly borrowed from it. In this way, I obtain a DNA-type profile in relation to the target text for all frequently occurring writers that are returned by the searches. However, while collocation analysis is traditionally confined to a database of known dramatists, I widen the search to include all fully searchable texts in EEBO. My test case is the long poem A Funeral Elegye (1612), and my method supports Brian Vickers’ conclusion that John Ford is a better authorial candidate than William Shakespeare. I also analyse two previously unattributed pamphlets: the Gesta Grayorum (1688), an account of the 1594–5 Gray’s Inn revels; and the True Declaration (1610), a Virginia Company propaganda pamphlet, and I conclude from my method that Francis Bacon is the only candidate for having compiled the former and that he was a major contributor to the latter. Two of the Shakespeare plays, The Comedy of Errors and Love’s Labour’s Lost have previously been associated with the 1594–5 Gray’s Inn revels. I analyse the three volumes of Nelson and Elliott’s Records of Early English Drama: Inns of Court (NE) to find that the number of professional companies that played at the Inns of Court (one of which is Gray’s Inn) before 1606 has been overestimated. A document shows that Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, were playing at Greenwich on 28 December 1594 when, as the Gesta Grayorum reports, The Comedy of Errors was performed at Gray’s Inn, and the circumstances do not allow Shakespeare to have been present. The evidence suggests that the play was first enacted by Inns of Court players rather than the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Inns of Court plays were often based on translations of classical works and usually commented on the succession question. I argue that The Comedy of Errors displays both of these characteristics and so was likely written with the revels in mind. Also, due to certain rare parallels between Francis Bacon’s speeches at the revels and Love’s Labour’s Lost, I claim that the play was intended for performance there but cancelled. Referring to the results of RCP, I suggest that Francis Bacon not only compiled the Gesta Grayorum but also contributed to the writing of these two plays. I also show that my new method identifies two non-members of the Inns of Court, Thomas Heywood and Thomas Dekker, as later revisers of these plays. In the final chapters, I improve on the dating evidence for The Tempest by showing that Caliban’s speech on edible items relies on knowledge of the Bermudan cahow, a bird whose behaviour was unknown in England before September 1610. The application of RCP to The Tempest confirms that William Strachey’s ‘True Reportory’, a 20,000-word secret report sent back from the Virginia colony to the London Virginia Company, was beyond reasonable doubt a source for the play. RCP also reveals Francis Bacon as a contributor to the writing of the play. I also apply the new method to the Virginia Company’s True Declaration, a pamphlet that almost certainly relied on ‘True Reportory’, and reveal Bacon as a contributor. This means that he must have inspected Strachey’s ‘True Reportory’, a source for The Tempest. I give strong reasons why Shakespeare would have been prohibited from gaining access to Strachey’s restricted company report. Finally, I suggest that The Tempest was used as a political tool to promote England’s influence in the New World, and although Strachey’s ‘True Reportory’ could not have been released for inspection, the Virginia Company must have cooperated in supplying information for the writing of the play.
Supervisor: Leahy, W. Sponsor: Francis Bacon Society
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Comedy of errors ; Tempest ; Love's labour's lost ; Virginia company ; Gray's Inn