The Tudor Society
  • Ben Jonson (1572-1637)

    Ben Jonson was a poet and a playwright, born on 11th June 1572, in the reign of Elizabeth I. Jonson was of Scottish descent and throughout his life maintained a great interest in Scotland and his ancestry. He was brought up by his recently widowed mother and had quite a poor upbringing. His father was a clergyman, and thus his wages would not have been substantial, nor would he have left a lot to his wife and son upon his death. When Jonson was still a young boy, his mother re-married, marrying a bricklayer, and they moved to Hartshorn not far from Charing Cross. The bricklayer in question is believed to have been Robert Brett, a man comfortable, if not overly wealthy, who had risen to become master of the Tyler and Bricklayers’ Company by 1609.

    Ben Jonson attended a small school near Hartshorn Lane, learning to read and write. At approximately the age of seven, he was sent off to Westminster School and studied under William Camden, the school’s second master. Jonson evidently had a positive experience learning under Camden, speaking of him as a ‘friend for ever.’ At Westminster, he learned the art of rhetoric and was educated in the Classics, learning to translate Greek and Latin into English. Furthermore, Camden also encouraged his pupils to create their own prose in English, something which would have a profound effect on young Ben Jonson.

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  • Works by Ben Jonson and John Davies to be performed for the first time in over 400 years – 4 December 2018, Southwark Cathedral

    Thank you to Michelle Yim of Red Dragonfly Productions for sending me the following information:

    At Southwark Cathedral in London this December, for one night only, we ordinary folk will be able to enjoy entertainments performed only once before at the Elizabethan and Jacobean Courts, and in doing so bear witness to some of the political intrigues of the time.

    With Queen Elizabeth getting older, and having no successor, Sir Robert Cecil, risking treason, is secretly negotiating with the King of the Scots to take over the throne. He also has a wish to open up a trade route to China, and the arrival of a foreign visitor gives him some hope of this, but will the Queen approve of his plans? If she does then will the new King be of the same mind? A mostly true tale of political intrigue, social change and one man’s obsession with porcelain, performed in glorious costume in one of London’s most historic buildings.

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