Ben Jonson: Still Laughing at Us

Posted By on October 26, 2011

The Chetham Library Image of Ben Jonson's Plato, gift of the "most generous and heroic" 18th Earl of Oxford. Jonson's inscription dates the gift (or at least its acknowledgement) to the period circa 1622, when de Vere became a popular hero for being jailed after his protest against the Spanish Marriage Crisis.*

Ben Jonson, propelled in part by his central role in Anonymous, which provides an intriguing reconstruction of his possible relationship with “Shakespeare,” is in the news again.

With thanks to Lisa W. for the tipoff, here’s the  Science Daily article, reporting on the possible discovery of a a major new Jonson-related manuscript by University of Nottingham and University of Edinburgh researchers:

Researchers….are now examining the anonymous 41-page journal in a major research project which will reconstruct a large missing piece of the colourful jigsaw of Ben Jonson’s life story. Dr James Loxley, Head of the Department of English at the University of Edinburgh, and Professor Julie Sanders, Head of the School of English Studies at The University of Nottingham, are working with a postdoctoral fellow, Dr Anna Groundwater to unlock the meanings and significance of this intriguing document.

The 7,500-word handwritten manuscript, apparently the work of a “previously unsuspected travelling companion,”  involves Jonson’s legendary 1618 walking tour, that took him all the way to his own Scottish roots in Edinburgh, as otherwise recounted in Jonson’s Conversations with William Drummond and other contemporary documents.

*For more information on this fascinating volume, visit the Chetham library online.

About the author

Roger Stritmatter is a native liberal humorist who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Contrary to rumor, he does not live on North Avenue. He does, however, work on North Avenue. A pacifist by inclination, one of his heroes is John Brown. But he thinks that Fredrick Douglass, another of his heroes, made the right decision. Stritmatter's primary areas of interest include the nature of paradigm shifts, the history of ideas, forensic literary studies, MS studies, renaissance literature, and the history of the Shakespearean question, the latter a field in which he has published extensively.


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