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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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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Happy Birthday to a Reverend Head

May 2 is the birthday of that great antiquarian, teacher, and scholar, William Camden (1551-1623), the man we can fairly give credit for the mind and career of Ben Jonson. Camden was the usher of The Westminster School when Jonson was a pupil there, and probably sponsored the bright bricklayer’s stepson as a scholarship boy. Camden took […]

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