Sir Walter Ralegh: the price of fame?

Further to my earlier review of the National Portrait Gallery exhibition, Elizabeth I and her people, I thought I'd just post two contrasting portraits of Ralegh. The first, on the left, is a Hilliard miniature from 1584. The second is a close-up photo I took of the 1588 portrait currently on display at the NPG.... Continue Reading →

Richard Topcliffe: the Queen’s torturer

There is no known portrait of Richard Topcliffe, the man most associated with the torture and persecution of Catholics in Elizabethan England. In some respects that is as it should be: those who break human bodies on behalf of the state are usually anonymous, ordinary figures, extraordinary only in the apparent disjunction between their personal... Continue Reading →

Shakespeare: the lost years

Most biographies of Shakespeare have traditionally wafted the young man directly from Stratford to London, presuming that the capital’s dominance of the English theatre which Shakespeare would help establish in the 1590s – and which lasts to this day – also held true for the 1580s. But that is not necessarily so. The truth is,... Continue Reading →

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