All the World in a Fair

The Four and Twentieth of August! Bartholmew-day! Bartholmew upon Bartholmew! there’s the Device! who would have mark’d such a Leap-Frog Chance now? When John Little-wit, Ben Jonson’s would-be playwright whose day-job is law-clerking, discovers that a client named Bartholomew Cokes plans to get betrothed in Bartholomew Fair, on the feast day of St. Bartholomew (August 24), he delights in […]

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King of Players, Player of Kings

Today is the birthday (in 1566) of James VI & I of Scotland and England. Although Shakespeare and Jonson are classified as Elizabethan poets, it was under the reign of James, and under his personal patronage, that they both did their greatest work. James called himself  “The Cradle King,” quite accurately, because he took over […]

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Jonson, Shakespeare, and Fathers

Ben Jonson was particularly interested in fatherhood, but most of his experiences were sad ones, not really appropriate for this day on which we celebrate our fathers. His most famous poem, surely, is his elegy for his eldest son, Benjamin, who died at the age of seven, while Ben was away visiting a wealthy patron […]

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Happy Birthday, dear Ben

Benjamin Jonson was born on this date in 1572 in Westminster, England. We are so fortunate to have had a new biography and a new edition of his complete works appear in the last year; perhaps at last he will have a place in the popular imagination equal, if not to Shakespeare’s, at least to his […]

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