Who Was Who ... in Shakespeare's World
Who was Who in Shakespeare's World - Original Copyright 1999 Volker Multhopp - USA - Used with permission. Volker states - " ... The information in this table was plucked from many sources. I feel particularly compelled to acknowledge the Reader's Encyclopedia of Shakespeare (Crowell, 1966), the Encyclopedia Britannica, and David J Kathman.) In some cases the "birth date" given is actually the baptismal date." - Volker's Pages - Version 1/20/1999. - Edited in this page

Edward Alleyn

(1566 - 1626) Perhaps the foremost actor of the late Elizabethan age, principally of the Admiral's Men (rivals to the Chamberlain's Men, William Shakespeare's company).

Robert Armin

(c 1568 - 1615) Actor (including Chamberlain's Men) and playwright. 

Roger Ascham

(c 1515 - 1568) Scholar, leading educator, and tutor to the highest, including Elizabeth and Oxford.

Jakob Ayrer

(c 1543 - 1605) Prolific German playwright strongly influenced by touring English troupes. At least three of his plays show strong similarities to Shakespeare's.

Francis Bacon [aka Lord Verulam, aka Viscount St Albans]

(1561 - 1626). Scientist, philosopher, MP, courtier, essayist, civil servant. The first serious candidate to challenge Shakespeare for authorship. Convicted of bribery.

Barnabe Barnes

(1571 - 1609) Poet, playwright, sometimes identified as the rival in the Sonnets. He escaped arrest on attempted murder. His "Divils Charter" was produced at Court by the King's Men.

Richard Barnfield

(1574 - 1627) Poet famous for his early praises of Shakespeare.

William Basse

(? 1583 - 1653) Poet significant only for his "On Mr. Wm. Shakespeare", published in 1632, which says, contrary to Jonson, that WS should be buried in Westminster.

Francis Beaumont

(1584 - 1616) Poet, playwright. Many of his plays were in collaboration with Fletcher. Despite his much inferior output, he was buried in Westminister.

Francois  de Belleforest

(1530 - 1583) French poet, translator. His "Histoires Tragique" is a source for "Hamlet", and possibly also MAAN, TN, and AWTEW.

the Beloved

Often used generically to name the subject person of any particular Sonnet. The Fair Youth and the Dark Lady were both Beloveds. There may be other Beloveds in the Sonnets.

Thomas Betterton

(1635 - 1710) Great actor of the Restoration, but included here because he went to Stratford for Rowe to try to find biographical information on Shakespeare.

Nicholas Breton

(1555? - 1625?) Prolific English writer of religious and pastoral poems, satires, dialogues, and essays; his chief early patron was Mary Herbert, Countess of Pembroke. 

George Buc

(1562 - 1622) Poet, historian, Master of the Revels 1609 - 1622. 

Richard Burbage

(1568 - 1619) Leading actor (and manager/principal shareholder) of the Chamberlain's Men and the King's Men

George Carey, 2nd Lord Hunsdon

(1547 -1603) Lord Chamberlain after 1597, patron of poets and the Chamberlain's Men.

Henry Carey, 1st Lord Hunsdon

(c 1524 - 1596) Lord Chamberlain and patron of the Chamberlain's Men.

Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury

(6/1/1553 - 5/24/1612) Chief minister to Elizabeth after his father's, Burghley's, death. Hunch-backed, and hence a possible model for Richard III.

Thomas Cecil, Earl of Exeter

(5/5/1542 - 2/8/1623) Courtier and civil servant. Son of Burghley.

William Cecil, Lord Burghley

(3/13/1520 - 8/5/1598) Treasurer and principal counselor to Elizabeth. Guardian of both Oxford and Southampton. Considered by many to be the inspiration for Polonius.

Lord Chamberlain

Court officer in charge of royal lodgings, wardrobe, and, importantly, entertainment (esp. theatre).

George Chapman

(1560 - 1634) Poet, classical translator, and major playwright. Cited by Meres as the best for tragedy and comedy. Some attribute parts or all of a number of Shakespeare's plays to him. Sometimes named as the Rival of the Sonnets. He wrote poems to several poets, but none to Shakespeare.

Henry Chettle

(1560 - 1607) Printer, then a playwright-- especially prolific as a collaborator with others. Editor, apologist, and possible co-author of "Groatsworth of Wit".

Cinthio (real name: Giovanni Battista Giraldi)

(1504 - 1573) Italian professor, novelist, playwright. His plays include sources for Othello and Measure for Measure.

Henry Condell

(9/5/1576 - 12/29/1630) Actor, member of the King's Men, co-editor of the First Folio.

William Covell

( - 1614) Poet. An epistle of his, published 1595, praising Spenser, Daniel, and Oxford (thou mayst extoll thy courte-deare-verse), is annotated with a reference to Shakespeare.

Samuel Daniel

(1562 - 1619) Poet in Mary Herbert's circle, playwright. Sometimes named as the Sonnets' rival.

Dark Lady

Appellation given to the mysterious anonymous femme of the later Sonnets.

John Davies

(1565 - 1618) Poet. An epigram, "To our English Terence, Mr. Will. Shake-speare" was published c 1610.

Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex

(1566 - 1601) Courtier, soldier, prime favourite of Elizabeth after Leicester's death. Several possible allusions to him in the plays. Executed for trying to overthrow the government. He was the 3rd husband of Frances, daughter of Walsingham.

Leonard Digges

(1588 - 4/7/1635) One of the dedicatory poets in the First Folio, translator of Spanish literature, and son of the mathematician Thomas D. His mother lived in Stratford; he lived near Heminges and Condell in London.

Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester

(1532 - 1588) the prime favourite of E1, Master of the Horse, courtier, soldier, patron of the arts and Leicester's Men.

William Dugdale

(1605 - 1686) Antiquary whose "Antiquities of Warwickshire" is important for its engraving of Shakspere's Stratford monument.

Edward Dyer, Sir

(10/1543 - 5/1607) English courtier and poet, a friend of Sir Philip Sidney. His works were well regarded, but little has survived.

Richard Edwards

(1526 - 1566) Playwright, Master of the Children of the Chapel. His "Damon and Pythias" was a pioneering "tragical comedy".

Fair Youth

Appellation given to the beloved anonymous young man referred to in the early "marriage" Sonnets. Many critics believe this same Fair Youth is also the object of the adoration in the bulk of the other sonnets.

Geoffrey Fenton

(c 1539 - 1608) Civil servant and translator of de Belleforest's Histoire Tragique (1567).

Mary Fitton

(1578 - 1647) Maid of Honour, beauty, mistress of Pembroke. Candidate for the Dark Lady.

John Fletcher

(1579 - 1625) Premiere playwright of the King's Men after Shakespeare. Father was Bishop of London. He was possibly the collaborator with WS on Two Noble Kinsmen, Henry VIII, and the lost Cardenio.

John Florio

(? 1554 - 1625) Scholar, translator of Italian, tutor to Southampton.

George Gascoigne

(?1542 - 10/7/1577) MP, soldier, bohemian, poet, playwright, and literary innovator. Friend of George Turberville and Edmund Spenser. Early linked to sonnets, first English non-dramatic blank verse, early war journalism.

Arthur Golding

(1536 - 1606) Prolific translator, including Ovid's "Metamorphoses". His half-sister was Oxford's mother.

Joseph Greene

18th c. Pastor of the Stratford Church. Before he beautified the 'Shakspere' monument, there was no record of anyone noticing paper or pen in the hands of the bust.

Robert Greene

(7/1558? - 9/3/1593) Bohemian, university wit, prose writer and blank verse dramatist, particularly of romantic comedy. Authored many popular pamphlets including "repentances" such as "Groatsworth of Wit" (ostensibly).

Fulke Greville, 1st Lord Brooke

(10/3/1554 - 9/30/1628) Philosopher, civil servant, writer, playwright, friend of Sidney, and favourite of E1. He died of stab wounds inflicted by a disgruntled manservant. 

Mr. W.H.

The mysterious dedicatee of the Sonnets.

Richard Hakluyt

(1552 - 11/23/1616) Geographer. In 1589 he began publishing his "The Prinicipall Navigations, Voiages, Discoveries of the English Nation ...", which he (and then others) expanded in later editions. The 1625 edition contains what some claim is a source for the Tempest.

Samuel Harsnet

(1561 -1631) Prelate, civil servant. He published a pamphlet in 1603 said to be the source for devils in Lear, Tempest, and Pericles.

John Hayward

(1564 - 1626) Historian. He seems to have borrowed from Richard II to write allegorical history supporting Essex against Elizabeth.

John Heminges

(11/25/1566 - 10/12/1630) Actor, member of the King's Men, major shareholder in the Globe and Blackfriars theatres, executor of several actors' wills, co-editor of the First Folio.

Philip Henslowe

( - 1616) Theatre and property owner/manager including Bear Garden, Paris Garden, Rose Theater, Newington Butts Theatre, Fortune Theatre, Swan, Whitefriars, Hope Theatre. His business records are a major source of information about Elizabethan theatre.

Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke

(1534 - 1601) Patron of the arts and Pembroke's Men.

Henry Herbert

(1595 - 1673) Master of the Revels 1623 to 1642.

Mary Sidney Herbert, Countess of Pembroke

(10/27/1561- 9/25/1621) Sister of Philip Sidney, wife of the 2nd Earl, mother of William and Philip Herbert (to whom the First Folio was dedicated), patron of the arts, poet and translator.

Philip Herbert, Earl of Mongomery

(10/10/1584 - 1/23/1650) Patron of the arts, renowned for his courtly skills including performances in masques. One of the dedicatees of the First Folio. Married Oxford's daughter, Susan.

William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke

(4/8/1580 - 4/10/1630) One of the dedicatees of the First Folio. Some consider him Mr. WH and/or the Fair Youth of the Sonnets. Imprisoned in 1601 for fathering a child to Mary Fitton.

Thomas Heywood

(c 1570 - 1641) Actor/playwright. His dramas borrowed a lot from Shakespeare.

Nicholas Hilliard

(1537 - 1619) Premiere painter of miniature portraits for the court. Conceivably the "painted counterfeit" of Sonnet 17 is by him.

Raphael Holinshed

( - 1580) Historian. His Chronicles (1577, 1587) are the source for much contemporary knowledge.

Hugh Holland

(1571 - 7/18/1633) One of the dedicatory poets in the First Folio.

Wenzel Hollar

(1607 - 1677) Czech engraver, immigrant, art tutor. Important for his "Long View of London", which depicted the London theatres, and his rendering of Shakspere's monument in Dugdale's Antiquaries.

Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey

(1517? - 1/13/1547) Poet, early English sonneteer, early use of English blank verse. Husband to Frances de Vere-- Oxford's aunt. Executed for treason. 

William Jaggard

(1569 - 1623) Printer and bookseller. Together with his son Isaac, pirate-printed "Passionate Pilgrim" and number of the quartos. Also printed the First Folio.

Inigo Jones

(1573 - 1652) Architect, courtly stage designer-- brought innovations from Italy.

Ben Jonson

(6/11/1572 - 8/16/1637) Poet, playwright, critic. One of the dedicatory poets in the First Folio. Other works include "Every Man in His Humour", "Volpone", "The Alchemist" & "Bartholomew Fair". He also wrote more directly about the playwright Shakespeare than any other.

Sylvester Jourdain

( - 1650) Traveler. He was shipwrecked with the Sea-Venture in 1609, and his account thereof is believed by some to be a source for the Tempest.

Thomas Kyd

(11/6/1558 - 1594) Famous playwright, but his "Spanish Tragedie" is the only play that can be reliably assigned to him.

Lewis Lewkenor

(c1556 - 1626) Spy for Burghley and translator. Some of his translations may have been used for MoV and Othello.

Francis Langley

(1550 - 1601) Theatre entrepreneur, owner of the Swan. He and Shakespeare are sworn against in a peace warrant by a William Wayte.

Thomas Lodge

(1557 - 1625) Playwright, prose writer, poet, university wit. His "Rosalynde" (1590) may be the source for AYLI.

John Lyly

(1554? - 1606) Prose writer, influential courtly playwright, university wit, Oxford's secretary. His Euphues romances featuring elegant language led to Euphuism. He gained control of Blackfriars Theater in 1583-- many of his plays were prose comedies performed by children companies. (qv Volker Malthopp Pages)

James Maabe

(1572 - 1642) Translator, poet, friend of Digges. Likely to be "I.M", one of the dedicatory poets in the First Folio

Francis Manners, 6th Earl of Rutland

(1578 - 1632) Brother of Roger, friend of Southampton. Subject of the famous impressa by Burbage and Shakespeare.

Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland

( - 1612) Based on parallels between his life and the canon, (qv Volker Malthopp Pages) some people propose him as the author, either alone or as a collaborator. His monument is much like Shakspere's.

Christopher Marlowe

(2/26/1564 - 5/30/1593 ?) Playwright, spy, university wit. Some say he wrote the canon. Author of "Tamburlaine the Great", "The Tragicall History of Dr. Faustus", "The Jew of Malta". Stabbed in a tavern brawl.

John Marston

(1576 - 1634) Satirist and Playwright. Occasionally used pseudonym (W Kinsayder). Arrested in 1608 and thereafter ceased working in theatre.

Master of the Revels

Court officer under the Lord Chamberlain responsible for producing plays in Court. Holders: Tilney (1579-09), Buc (09-22), John Astley (22-23), Herbert (23-42).

Francis Meres

(1565 - 1647) Translator and critic, his collection of essays, "Palladis Tamia", is important for its references to Shakespeare and Oxford.

Thomas Middleton

(1570 - 1627) Playwright. Some claim he wrote the songs in Macbeth.

Luce Morgan [aka Parker]

(1560 - 1610) Maid of the Queen's bedchamber, later convicted as a prostitute. Candidate (by Hotson) for the Dark Lady.

Anthony Munday

(1560? - 1633) Playwright, spy (among Catholic refugees in France and Italy), poet. Probably the prime author of Sir Thomas More-- a hand-written revised passage of which some claim to be by Shakespeare.

Thomas Nashe

(1567 - 1601?) Pamphleteer, poet, university wit.

Thomas North

(1535? - 1601) His translation of Jacques Amyot's French version of "Plutarch's Lives" was heavily used by Shakespeare for Julius Caesar, Anthony and Cleopatra, Coriolanus, and Timon.

John Ostler

( - 1614) Actor, married to Thomasina, daughter of John Heminges.

Henry Peacham

(1576? - 1643) Artist and critic, his 1622 "The Compleat Gentleman" has an essay borrowing heavily from Puttenham, mentions Oxford but not Shakespeare in a literary survey. 

George Peele

(1556 - 1596) Playwright, university wit. Suggested as a collaborator of Shakespeare.

George Puttenham 

(ca 1519 - autumn 1590) Courtier, literary critic, probable author of "Arte of English Poesie" (1589).

Walter Raleigh, Sir

(1554 - 10/29/1618, London). English adventurer and writer, a favourite of Queen Elizabeth I, who knighted him in 1585. Accused of treason by Elizabeth's successor, James I, he was imprisoned in the Tower of London and eventually put to death.

Nicholas Rowe

(1674 - 1718) Playwright and editor and first significant biographer of Shakespeare. He collected oral stories about Shakespeare and sent Betterton to Stratford for more information. He also made many textual improvements and corrections to the canon. 

Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset [aka Lord Buckhurst]

(1536 - 4/19/1608) English statesman, poet, and dramatist. His "Tragedie of Gorboduc" is an early example of English drama in blank verse.

William Shakespeare

(?) The man behind the name that appears on the plays and the poems, the author of the canon. Also the name of an Elizabethan-Jacobean actor. Some debate participants think author and actor are the same person; others don't.

William Shakspere

(4/26?/1664 - 4/23/1616) Stratford businessman, actor?, poet?, playwright?, Shakespeare?

Philip Sidney

(11/30/1554 - 10/17/1586) Courtier, statesman, soldier, poet, and patron of scholars and poets. His "Astrophel and Stella" (1582) is one of the finest Elizabethan sonnet cycles. His "The Defence of Poesie" introduced Renaissance theories to England. His uncle was Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. He married Frances, daughter of Walsingham. He did not allow his writings to be published in his lifetime. He died gallantly in the siege of Zutphen, and was memorialized by many of the leading poets.

Edmund Spenser

(1552? - 1/13/1599) Poet, colonial officer in Ireland. Works: The Shepheardes Calender; Complaints; The Faerie Queene; Prothalamion; Amoretti and Epithalamion; Three Proper, and Wittie, Familiar Letters, by Gabriel Harvey and Spenser; A View of the Present State of Ireland.

John Stanhope, Lord Harrington

(c1545 - 1617) Courtier, vice chamberlain.

William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby

(1561 - 1642) Another candidate for authorship. Husband of Oxford's daughter Elizabeth.

John Stow

(c 1525 - 1605) Antiquarian.

William Strachey

( - 1619) Poet and early traveler to Virginia, chiefly notable for a letter about his 1609 Bermuda shipwreck, which has been tied to the Tempest.

James I Stuart, King of England

King of England, Scotland and Ireland upon death of Elizabeth I, patron of the theatre.

Torquato Tasso

(1544 - 1595) Italian poet and playwright.

Thomas Thorpe

(1570 - 1635) Publisher of the Sonnets and possible author of their controversial dedication.

Edmund Tilney

( - 1610) Master of the Revels 1579 - 1609. Uncle of George Buc.

Elizabeth I Tudor, Queen of England

(8/7/1533 - 3/24/1603; r 1558-d) Queen of England and Ireland, arguably England's greatest monarch, patron of the theatre.

George Turberville

(1544? - 1597?) Poet, early English blank verse.

University Wits

A group of Oxbridge-educated playwrights primarily active in the late 1580s and early 1590, including: Robert Greene, Thomas Lodge, John Lyly, Christopher Marlowe, George Peele, and Thomas Nashe.

Anne Vavasour

One of Elizabeth's maids, impregnated by Oxford causing his imprisonment and touching off a street-brawling feud between him and her relatives. Considered the Dark Lady by many Oxfordians.

Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford

(4/12/1550 - 6/24/1604) Courtier, favorite of E1, bohemian, patron of writers and the theater, poet, playwright.

Elizabeth Trentham de Vere

Oxford's 2nd wife.

Ann Cecil de Vere

Daughter of Burghley, Oxford's neglected 1st wife.

Francis Walsingham

 (c1532 - 4/6/1590) Statesman, spymaster, a principal counselor to Elizabeth 1st.

John Ward

( - 1681) Vicar of Stratford, 1661 -. He kept a diary from 1648 to '79. C 1662 he recorded several tales about Shakspere/Shakespeare.

William Webbe

( ) Critic: "A Discourse of English Poetrie".

John Webster

(1580? - 1634) Actor?, playwright. Perhaps the best Jacobean playwright, little is known about him.

John Weever

(1576 - 1632) Poet. An epigram of his published in 1599 celebrates Shakespeare.

George Whetstone

(1544 - 1587) Soldier/adventurer and writer. His play "Promos and Cassandra" is a source for MfM.

George Wilkins

( ? ) Playwright. He may be a co-author of Pericles.

Henry Wotton

(1568 -1639) Poet, translator, spy, he provided a report of the burning of the Globe.

Elizabeth Vernon Wriothesley, Countess of Southampton

( - c1648) When orphaned she became ward of Essex. Southampton impregnated her, forcing their marriage, and causing Elizabeth to lock them both up for awhile. Some see her as the Dark Lady.

Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton

 (1573 - 1624) Courtier, patron of the arts, dedicatee of "Venus and Adonis" and "Lucrece". Orphaned at 8, and like Oxford, became a ward of Burghley, who tried to get him to marry his granddaughter, Oxford's daughter, Elizabeth de Vere. A friend of Essex's, he participated in the latter's coup attempt. He narrowly escaped the axe, and was released from prison by James1 in 1603. Often named as the Fair Youth. There is nothing but an old tale to show he financially aided Shakespeare. 

Thomas Wyat, Sir

(1503 - 10/6/1542) Poet and courtier, introduced the Italian sonnet.