From my local library I checked out Michael Wood's book and DVD, "In Search of Shakespeare".
The DVD is fabulous. I'd like to have it in my collection, but don't want to pay the $35 PBS is asking. Borders Books has a half-price sale going on. Think I'll call around and see if any of the stores have it.
Here is an excellent review of the book/documentary:
I was particularly intrigued that one of Shakespeare's Arden cousins was arrested and executed when his son-in-law Somerville reputedly called Queen Elizabeth a heretic and declared his intent to assassinate her.
Strangely this did not have any negative effect on Shakespeare's (future) career, and if anything, just the opposite. The question is, why would someone in Shakespeare's family (prior to Shakespeare's rise in the theater) merit such high profile attention and be taken from obscure Stratford to the Tower of London?
I also found it curious that immediately after the death of his son Hamnet, Shakespeare's family was granted a coat of arms. It sounds to me that Hamnet did not die but was "reassigned" and Shakespeare was rewarded for service rendered.
Michael Woods concludes that Shakespeare was leading a double life in London and Stratford. Exactly what was the nature of that double life? Did members of the nobility and even the royal family have regional "actors" that they directed (and received local knowledge from)? I'm certainly open to considering this idea. And it makes sense in terms of extended "span of control" by the ruling class.
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