With the balance of his rent paid in full, William Shaxper locked the door of his apartment for the last time. He told his landlady that he would be heading to Stratford after his farewell speech at The Globe at the conclusion of All is True. Mrs. Mountjoy cooed and thanked him for always having paid his rent in a timely manner. She tucked the key into her bodice and wished him a safe journey.
She wouldn’t have cared that Lord Oxford’s trunk was also on its way to Stratford, stuffed with manuscripts Shaxper intended to sell. He was confident that the theater owners would seek him out, willing to pay for the use of the Shake-speare name.
As he walked towards the theater, he tried to understand the bitter unfriendliness he felt from the new generation of playwrights. Hiring them to fill in a few scenes every now and then was an extravagance he thoroughly enjoyed, and yet know-it-alls like Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher kept whining about things like denouement, dramatic flow, symbolism, and something called catharsis that belonged in a chamber pot. They assumed that he had all the answers to their questions, especially with the large number of successful revivals the Shake-speare plays were enjoying. But since he wasn’t a writer, Shaxper had nothing to say to them, and he could no longer put them off by looking inscrutable and puffing on his pipe.
Beyond the need to protect himself, he felt the extreme importance of his farewell address to the London stage. His partnership with Lord Oxford had been Heavenly Ordained, and it was time to express his gratitude for the many gifts he had received. It had been hard work: all those hours of dictation and transcription, of meeting the demand for the history plays, of reading lines out loud for dramatic effect, of risking life and limb every time he delivered a play to the Stationers’ Register. In the early days, his lust for advancement had propelled him forward. He had never imagined the exhilaration of working with a literary genius and then, pretending to be one.
It had been a bizarre arrangement, and it had worked well until Lord Oxford’s murder almost nine years ago to the day.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish