Sunday, June 5, 2011

The Bacon brothers and the theatres, Part 1 of 2

This and the next post are partly in response to the argument that Francis Bacon didn’t have connections to the theatre world or to the Cheapside tavern environment known in the Henry IV plays.

The Bacon brothers and the theatres, Part 1 of 2

Anthony Bacon (1558-1601) was the eldest son of Nicholas and Anne Bacon. He and Francis collaborated on plays, and advised the Earl of Essex. (Anthony was Essex’s secretary and foreign correspondent passing on secret political information from the Continent). Hepworth Dixon in his book Personal History of Francis Bacon says of Francis and Anthony:
..."day and night their tongues and pens are busy in this work of correspondence. Anthony writes the Earl's letters, instructs his spies, drafts for him dispatches to the agents in foreign lands. Francis shapes for him a plan of conduct at the Court, and writes for him a treatise of advice which should have been the rule and would have been the salvation of his life."

We learn from Lady Anne Bacon's letters that Anthony and Francis were having plays performed at Anthony's house near the Bull's Inn, Bishopgate, in 1594; and the Bull Inn itself was frequently used for this purpose.

The name Anthony occurs in no less than eight of the plays, including The Tempest, which has autobiographical references. In The Merchant of Venice Antonio figures as the generous brother. Not only were Anthony and Francis Bacon singularly devoted to each other, but on many occasions, such as in 1598, when Francis was in financial difficulties, and was actually seized and imprisoned at the instance of a Jewish creditor, Anthony came to his assistance and did everything in his power to help. This occurred shortly before the date usually assigned for the writing of this play (The Merchant of Venice).

----Reference:Enter Francis Bacon by Bertram Theobald,1932

From “In Search of Shakespeare”:
The home of James Burbage's The Theatre and The Curtain, Shoreditch lies a mile outside the old walls of London on the road that passed through Bishopsgate. Being beyond the jurisdiction of the city proved useful in a time when the Puritans viewed actors on the stage as an affront to the Protestant religion.
       Shoreditch was a rough area where visitors would be well advised to wear a sword at all times. Bars and theatres attract many revelers and, along with them, the ubiquitous prostitutes, thieves, cutpurses and con men.

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