28. 7 November 2001

Dear John,


Thanks for yours. I had some rather desultory and inconclusive correspondence with John Kerrigan who tiresomely detected two hands in Edward III and wasn' t very keen onIronside either. He doesn' t impress my erstwhile Yale editor, who thinks that Kerrigan is too young to be a serious scholar, or Prof. Helen Vendler of Harvard, who doesn't care for his comments on the Sonnets. He vastly overrates the already self-overrated NZ Prof. MacD. Jackson (no doubt a Cambridge exile, like George Steiner and that fearsome memorial reconstructionist Brian Vickers). And he's also rather too anti-autobiographical for my taste. But I quite like him (confessedly as another Cambridge person) and I value his edition of theSonnets; at least he knows they're addressed to Southampton, and he is also rather sure that Edward III is (partly, at least) by Shakespeare.

   He doesn't seem to find any other poet, though, whether in 55,77 or 122, or elsewhere, or any different order either. Southampton was certainly a literary man; but twee recipients and rearrangement will offend against Ockham. Perhaps I'm overrating him, as another Surrey resident, but I swear by him. That's how we know it was Southampton, after all (cf. Jonathan Bate, another Ovidian). He was a nobleman, attractive, long­haired, a serious person, a great rider, and a married man who had a son, as (you agree) the first sonnets require. Speaking of two recipients, incidentally, what do you think of the idea that 126 is addressed to that new-born child?

   Alas, I haven't ever come across the name Christie-Miller. It's probably mutual. And though I used to know Oxford and its colleges, and indeed its environs, rather well, Britwell rings no bells in my admittedly defective hearing.

   Thanks, finally, for 'The Mature Shakespeare'; I'll bear that in mind.

   Yours, as ever