A Post Stratfordian Shake-speare Blog
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Audrey’s Valentines

Today is Valentine’s eve. Sometime a few centuries long ago, Sybil and Tobias Turf were matched as Valentines on this very eve. They became betrothed. Thirty years later, they decide a Valentines’ lottery is the best method for choosing a husband for their Audrey Turf. This is the predicate for Ben Jonson’s late play, A Tale of a Tub.  Rambler suggested I look at it recently, and I’ve found it quite intriguing. He also mentioned it on Quake-speare Shorterly yesterday.

There’s enough beef on this bone for more than a few posts. Perhaps we’ll serve it with mustard. The play contains, I believe, Jonson’s account of the Authorship Question. As such, it is a complement to Chapman’s account in The Gentleman Usher, which was the topic of a series of fifteen posts here (linked back to front). How these two plays dovetail in their depiction of events is of particular interest. One account is hearsay, two accounts are journalism.

In the Prologue, Jonson tells us that this is a story.

“Of antic proverbs, drawn from Whitsun-lords.”

The Whitsun-lord, is the nobleman who presided over the Whitsun festivities – the Maypole, the Morris dance, etc. I assume we are all current on our Rambler reading here. There is no doubt whose story Jonson is telling. Jonson’s giving us the  info up front.

Rambler notes that critics will go to great lengths to discount links to Shakespeare. This is true of Jonson’s Audrey as well. It simply can’t be Shakespeare’s Audrey from As You Like It. One critic notes that Shakespeare’s Audrey is unnattractive while Jonson’s is pretty, ergo they are different people. Okay – or not. Both Audreys are country women. Both are betrothed. Both are uncertain to be married to their betrothed. Oxfordians have long realized the exchange between Touchstone and William in As You Like It is Shakespeare lashing out at the loss of his name to Shaksper. Mark Anderson’s account in Shakespeare by Another Name is particularly good, and I encourage all to refresh themselves on the specifics of the original Audrey story before we proceed. Hank Whittemore has a good discussion here as well.

Jonson’s Tub has taken the kernel of the Audrey story from As You Like It and fleshed it out with many details that are of interest to the Authorship Question. In Shakespeare, Audrey has two suitors, Touchstone and William. Simple enough. In Tub, Audrey has four!  Was there more than one front man? More than one author?  I think I’ve puzzled it out. We’ll dive into the merry band of clowns in A Tale of a Tub in the next post. Meanwhile, brush up on your Shakespeare! – Touchstone and Audrey specifically.

more anon.



February 13, 2014   No Comments