Michael Drayton, Polyolbion, 1613 - Musicmakers by the River Severn - plate between p.54 & p.55

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Date:1613

Description:Country music making in Shakespeare's time.

Queen Elizabeth I was skilled on the virginals, (a keyboard instrument, popular for accompaniment of singers), and all classes of society were encouraged to sing, or play instruments. Shakespeare was familiar with the musicians of the court and the theatre, but many of his lesser characters are musical too. Shakespeare’s countryfolk in The Winter’s Tale are familiar with the tunes of a popular ballad that Autolycus has for sale from his pedlar’s pack. ‘We can both sing it. If thou’lt bear a part thou shalt hear; ‘tis in three parts’ ‘We had the tune on‘t a month ago', say country-girls Dorcas and Mopsa. (4.4). Bottom, the weaver in A Midsummer Night’s Dream admits ‘I have a reasonably good ear in music. '(4.1), while in As You Like It (5.3) Touchstone finds two pages in the forest to sing ‘It was a lover and his lass...’ with him, and songs intended to accompany the amateur entertainment in Love’s Labour’s Lost end that play (5.2).

See: The Winter’s Tale, 4,4, lines 291-292.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 4,1, lines 27-29.
As You Like It, 5,3, lines 6-43.
Love’s Labour’s Lost, 5,2, lines 877-911.


Full title: Michael Drayton, Poly-olbion, or a chorographicall description of Great Britaine, digested in a poem by Michael Drayton, London, H.L. for Mathew Lownes, I. Browne, I. Helme and I. Busbie, 1613.


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1570s
Henri Estienne, A mervaylous discourse upon... Katherine de Medici…, 1575 - title page
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1590s
William Shakespeare, Venus and Adonis, 1594, leaf F4v.
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1610s
George Tuberville, The Noble Art of Venerie or Hunting, 1611 -  A royal picnic, p.91.
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A picnic for Shakespeare's royal patron. Among the many engravings of huntsmen ...

1630s
William Shakespeare, Quartos, Love's Labour's Lost, 1631 - title page
William Shakespeare, Quartos, Love's Labour's Lost, 1631 - title page

A play for the Blackfriars Theatre: Shakespeare's Love’s Labour’s Lost. The ...

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Donor ref:SR/OS 95.2 [884] (32/10572)

Source: The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust - Library

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