Shakespeare may have been the particular target of the dart aimed at the worldly success of the common players by the frustrated scholar-poets in the second Return from Parnassus: ‘They purchase lands’, complains the incredulous Studioso, ‘and now esquires are named’. If the allusion is to the grant of a Shakespeare coat-of-arms indeed, it should be remembered that it was formally made to his father and, in any case, entitled either Shakespeare to append nothing more to his name than ‘gentleman’. (Nor was he the only player to have a coat-of-arms.) But in 1602, the year in which the play was performed, Shakespeare did indeed purchase land, 107 arable acres of it in Old Stratford, as well as a quarter-acre and a cottage across Chapel Lane from New Place, which certainly might have caught the attention of the Cambridge playwrights, who seem to have kept a close eye on the theatre world they professed to disdain.
KeywordsTown Hall North Wall Theatre World Fair House Common Player
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