From Wikipedia, “Richard Field (or Feild) (1561–1624) was a printer and publisher in Elizabethan London, best known for his close association with the poems of William Shakespeare, with whom he grew up in Stratford-upon-Avon”
Field is best remembered for printing the early editions of three of Shakespeare's non-dramatic poems:
- · Venus and Adonis
- · The Rape of Lucrece
- · The Phoenix and the Turtle
“In 1579 Richard Field began an apprenticeship with the London printers John Bishop and Thomas Vautrollier. Vautrollier died in 1587. In 1588, Field collaborated with Jacqueline Vautrollier, Thomas Vautrollier's widow and a printer in her own right.” Richard Field, upon Vautrollier’s death in July 1587, married Vautrollier’s widow in February (or March) 1588. Field thus inherited the publishing rights to Vautrollier’s books as well as now owning one of the best printing businesses in London.
Kathman describes their relationship as “Richard Field was apprenticed to George Bishop, one of the more prominent stationers (i.e. printers/publishers) in London, for the normal term of seven years. However, it was agreed that Richard would spend the first six of these years under Thomas Vautrollier…”
Though there is NO evidence of William Shakspere of Stratford-Upon-Avon and Richard Field meeting or working together, or even knowing or acknowledging each other, it’s assumed that they were friends because “Richard's father Henry was a tanner, much like John Shakespeare (who was a glover), and the Fields lived on Bridge Street, a few hundred yards down the road from the Shakespeares. Given their similar occupations in a small town, we can reasonably assume that the two men knew each other from childhood,…” (says David Kathman). Let me pause here to add that it would be more reasonable to assume that they knew of each other. William’s father John had sued Richard Field’s father Henry in 1556 (before either son was born). So it’s possible that the families didn’t have close friendly relations. Kathman continues “…and it’s entirely reasonable to think that the relationship continued when they were both living in London. (In the real world, the fact that Field published Venus and Adonis counts as evidence of their association in London, but I realize that that's out of bounds here.)”
http://shakespeareauthorship.com/field.html (for Kathman’s article)
Two more comments on his analysis: He says “and it’s entirely reasonable to think that the relationship continued…”. Wait, WHAT RELATIONSHIP???? We don’t know ANYTHING about their relationship other than they were born in the same town and may have lived somewhat near each other while in Stratford. Maybe they had a bad relationship (or no relationship) and maybe that bad (or none) relationship continued when they both lived in London while Richard was a successful printer and William was a struggling young actor! And the fact that Field published Venus and Adonis counts as evidence of their association in London??? No, it doesn’t. It counts as evidence that Field had a connection of some sort with the poet Shake-Speare, whoever that was. But even if it was Bacon it still doesn’t prove that Field even had a friendship with Bacon or even knew that he was Shake-Speare, if he was. If Bacon was Shake-Speare he may have used an associate to deliver his literary works to printers.
Field was, however, involved in the printing of a large number of sources used by Shake-Speare (Francis Bacon, William Shakspere, or someone else). And so it would not be surprising if this Shake-Speare spent time with Field and other printers to have better access to the books and manuscripts in their possession. Bacon, then, being a prolific writer under his own name (in his later years), and seeing his works printed both in England and maybe even more so on the continent, as well as being a voracious reader (having taken “all knowledge as his province”) would definitely fit this scenario. It’s interesting that Bacon, when frustrated at not receiving a government position, wrote to William Cecil in 1592, jested that he may as well “become some sorry bookmaker.” It would seem he knew that profession well to have it in mind, not seriously, as an alternate profession.
Richard Field, it turns out, is connected to Francis Bacon through a publication dedicated to Bacon’s parents:
"A treasurie of catechisme, or Christian instruction. The first part, which is concerning the morall law or ten Commandements of Almightie God: with certaine questions and aunswers preparatory to the same". by Allen, Robert, fl. 1596-1612. London : Printed by Richard Field for Thomas Man, 1600 ---dedicated to Nicholas and Anne Bacon
Let’s now take a look at Field’s apprenticeship with Vautrollier. Thomas Vautrollier became an English citizen in March of 1562. Kathman describes him as “a French refugee printer with an excellent record of printing difficult books, many in foreign languages”. Vautrollier was a Huguenot that left France during The French Wars of Religion, which was primarily between the Catholics and the French Protestants, which drove many Huguenots to other lands. The Huguenots had the strong backing of Henry of Navarre.
Henry of Navarre and the House of Bourbon allied themselves to the Huguenots, adding wealth and holdings to the Protestant strength, which at its height grew to sixty fortified cities, and posed a serious threat to the Catholic crown and Paris over the next three decades.
As King of Navarre, before becoming Henry IV, King of France, Henry was a Huguenot (French Protestants).
Apparently, Vautrollier kept connected with the French Huguenots for at least another 16 years as he published a book dedicated to Henry:
"Traicte, de l'eglise", by Mornay, Philippe de, seigneur du Plessis-Marly, 1549-1623. Imprimé à Londres : Par Thomas Vautrollier, 1578 ---ded to Henry Navarre
Vautrollier’s, and then Field’s, wife was a member of the community of Huguenot exiles in London. So Field was likely sympathetic and sensitive to her former country’s religious struggles. William Shakspere of Stratford, on the other hand, has more often lately been considered as favoring Catholicism. His parents, especially his mother, were Catholic or had Catholic connections. See for example:
This would not likely endear him to Richard Field and his wife. Bacon, though, was broad-minded on religious matters, and one of his closest friends, Toby Mathew had converted to Catholicism and had been banished because of it. This could explain some of the favorable or tolerant Catholic characters/ideas/symbolism in the Shakespeare plays.
Also, elsewhere here, under another blog topic (to be added later) , I’ve posted a four part series that represents a proof of Bacon’s authorship of the Shake-Speare play Love’s Labors Lost. Those posts provide evidence of Bacon’s connections to Henry of Navarre.
This establishes a connection between Francis Bacon and the Shakespearean printer Richard Field. It’s not a strong connection, but there seems to be more evidence for such between Bacon and Field than between William of Stratford and Field. Field, besides printing a work favorable to Francis Bacon’s parents, inherited Vautrollier’s publishing rights to books associated with Huguenot Henry of Navarre, with whom Francis and his brother Antony were, or had been, closely associated.
One of Francis Bacon’s closest friends was Sir Fulke Greville, Elizabethan poet, dramatist, and statesman.
His connection to Bacon and Stratford-Upon-Avon are discussed on this site in the ‘Shakespeare Evidence Reviewed’ section (to be added to this blog later) where we examined famous persons that should have known whether or not William Shakspeare of Stratford was the playwright ‘Shake-Speare’.
In April 1583 the philosopher Giordano Bruno came to England, and Greville received him with enthusiasm; and in his house in London, Bruno held several of those disputations which he recorded in "La Cena de la Ceneri" (Frith, "Life of Giordano Bruno," 1887, p. 227, &c.).
From Shakespeare's Warwickshire Contemporaries, (1907, first published in 1897 by Charlotte Carmichael Stopes) we find “We know that he [Greville] befriended Giordano Bruno, whose works were published by Vautrollier and Field, and read by Shakespeare.”
In this same book we find "In some of the Sonnets there are such evident traces of the influence of Giordano Bruno that I long wondered how Shakespeare could have come in contact with him. That philosopher had, it is true, lectured in Oxford in 1583, but one could hardly fit Shakespeare into a university lecture room. He (Bruno) had visited in 1582 Sir Fulke Greville and Sir Philip Sidney in London; yet we cannot imagine Shakespeare in their company then."
And yet, Bacon, the close friend of Greville, and who became an eminent philosopher, would be very likely to want to familiarize himself with the thought of Bruno, and possibly to have attended Bruno’s lecture at Oxford.
Stopes also added that “The "Dialectics of Aristotle," edited by John Case, of Oxford, came out in 1584. This book doubtless read by Shakespeare was a treatise on moral, political, and economical philosophy, by Petrucio Ubaldino, a Florentine, for many years pensioned by Queen Elizabeth.”
Bacon’s book of Essays are often titled “Essays, Moral, Economical, and Political”, showing how close in philosophical interests Bacon was with some of these books “doubtless read by Shakespeare”.