I will always reply to comments and always re-reply to re-replies.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Today is Shakespeare's 450th birthday (and also, oddly enough, the anniversary of his death).

We have a local link to him in that the very first amateur performance of one of his plays occurred at Surrenden Manor, Pluckley (burnt down in 1952).

In the Folger Library in Washington is the handwritten adaption of two of his plays which were performed at Surrenden in 1623.

Sir Edward Dering put together  the two parts of Henry IV for this private performance at his home. He paid the local rector to write out the play and laid out the princely sum of 17 shillings and eight pence "for heads of hair and beards", which were presumably wigs and false beards for Falstaff, et al.

So our local claim to literary fame is not just limited to H.E. Bates' "The Darling Buds of May" TV series, which was filmed nearby (and is also a quotation from a Shakespeare sonnet).


Lucy said...

That must have been quite a lot of money for hair and beards, I wonder why they didn't have enough of their own, and what they did with them afterwards?

Roderick Robinson said...

Returning here always pleases me. Many years ago I suggested an elaboration of your domestic arrangements and you took it up cheerfully, without complaint. It's still there. And I suppose the man with the woolly hat, the long walking stick and the funny accent was forced to move out. It was for the best. Moral standards are high in the Home Counties.

Sir Edward Dering showed good taste and I rarely make that sort of statement about men with titles. There is presently a growing consensus that IV Pts 1/2 is the best of the history plays and some even claim that, combined, it is the best play he ever wrote. Hamlet may top it but IV has many more laughs. About the only thing that went right during my schooling was that we did Pt 2 as the set play and I remember great chunks of it. As you know to your cost I have embellished the home page of my blog with a link to Lady Percy's lovely and moving tribute to her now dead husband Hotspur. And rarely a year goes by without some reference to Falstaff's soliloquy: "A good sherris sack..."

Avus said...

Yes, I thought it a fair bit of cash for that time. Your point about the "hirsuteness" of the locals in 1623 is well made. The manuscript was discovered at Surrenden Manor, but since it burnt down in 1952 I guess any remaining hair went with it.

Enjoyed your first paragraph immensely! I tend to agree that Harry IV is possibly the best of the plays. We did Hamlet for "A" level at school and had to go deep into his psychology. Harry IV definitely has more laughs!