Once I was a clever boy learning the arts of Oxford... is a quotation from the verses written by Bishop Richard Fleming (c.1385-1431) for his tomb in Lincoln Cathedral. Fleming, the founder of Lincoln College in Oxford, is the subject of my research for a D. Phil., and, like me, a son of the West Riding. I have remarked in the past that I have a deeply meaningful on-going relationship with a dead fifteenth century bishop... it was Fleming who, in effect, enabled me to come to Oxford and to learn its arts, and for that I am immensely grateful.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Sharing Shakespeare in seventeenth century Spain

The BBC News website has an interesting story about the discovery in the Library of the Royal Scottish College, now in Salamanca, of what is now the earliest known copy of a Shakespeare play in Spain. The copy of The Two Noble Kinsmen, printed in 1634, appears to have travelled thither with a student and ended up in the collection. The article can be seen at Shakespeare play found in Scots college in Spain

As the piece makes clear this indicates the literary tastes of the students and also ties in with Spanish awareness in its own literary Golden Age with English writers. It strikes me further that the Scottish interest in an English playwright in the decades after the Union of the Crowns is perhaps noteworthy, indicative of a shared British culture as being already in formation. The idea of Scots seminarians putting on Shakespeare’s works for their own entertainment and perhaps, or probably, that of their Spanish friends and contemporaries in the College which was established in Madrid in 1627 is rather delightful. It indicates a breadth of culture one might not necessarily expect in the As the report points out this was an important point of contact between the two literary worlds, reinforced by the friendship of the Rector of the Royal College with Lope de Vega. The survival of this book suggests a fascinating series of contacts between the British and Iberian worlds in the 1630s.

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