12. 2 October 1995 (MND - various Shakespearean topics)

Dear John,


   Many thanks for your kind wishes about the London seminar. My earlier efforts at Oxford and Birmingham seemed to go down quite well; I soon discovered that nothing pleases professors so much as hearing their colleagues slanged, and they can all count on me to oblige.

   Thanks too for the MND article, which I had seen, perhaps in an earlier draft. It still seems just as compelling. When I get back to Shakespeare and restock my shelves (swept clear to make some space for Brahms) I'll find my book on the sources etc of MND, which I may well need for my second volume (if any) of The Real Shakespeare. Meanwhile though I fear I'm a broken reed; I've had to stop at the end of 1594, up to which time I haven't found any relevant archival evidence. Nor am I very strong on London topography, though I know that the Temple tube station is just down the road from the Strand (where the Earl of Southampton had lodgings in 1592).

   I'm glad we agree about 'memorial reconstruction', which is just as daft as 'Hamnet'. I think the London Library has a facsimile of Love's Martyr; I'll look around when I'm next there (which I fear won't be for a week or so) .

   As to the Dolman Cicero, I think it all looks quite encouraging; and I entirely concur about the kinship between the doodles. Unfortunately, the argumentum ad doodleum isn't going to carry us very far. It's a pity too, I quite agree, that the signature isn't clearer. But it's a sceptical academic, who neither knows nor cares about palaeographology (not a well-recognised discipline), who says 'might possibly read W Shak'. Here's an enlarged xerox of the title-page, which may help. They had the same trouble with the Archaionomia signature, also written in the same rather peculiar place, and again in what looks like a quasi-Italic style.

   Best, as ever,

   Yours, Eric