9. 13 June 1995 (Geneaology; Shakespeare's Coat of arms application)

Dear John,


   Thanks for yours. In my grandparental necks of the woods (Bucks, Devon, Essex, Kent) the Essex grandfather was a shepherd and stockman all his llife, and the Devon greatgrandfather certainly began as an agricultural labourer, though he died a mining engineer. In my mother's last years I dabbled in genealogy, to keep her entertained and indeed amused by various pretensions. But at the turn of the century in southern England the land was all there was; we didn't even have any mines or quarries to work in.

   No, I didn't find much use for Chambers 1923, which is perhaps mainly a compilation from earlier sources. But I'll cite him in my latest samizdat publication, enclosed in case you in turn have any comments.

   Yes, I quite like your MND wedding solution; but what about 'to live a barren sister all you life/chanting faint hymns to the cold fruitless moon'? That doesn't seem too well calculated to appeal to a Virgin (sic) Queen; nor does 'withering on the virgin thorn', which sounds very uncomfortable. But of course the 1600 text might have been written at any time up to its 8 October registration.

   Anyhow I'm still stuck in 1596, awaiting reactions from the College of Arms to my proposal that their draft applications are in Shakespeare's hand and from Utrecht library to my request for a photograph of the de Witt copy drawing. Also I was pleased to hear that Graham Johnson and his Songmakers Almanac are kindly arranging a concert for my 70th birthday next year, so I'm thinking about what to suggest. I was a musicologist while a civil servant, and then became a Shakespeare nut while a musicologist. Whatever next, when of my three score years and ten/ 70 will not come again?

   I'm not sure that the Bryn/Jeremy Figaro is commercially available. J. tells me he will however be appearing on CD before long; his translation of Orphée aux Enfers is being recorded by ENO. And I gather that a new recording of Shakespeare music is to include what's known as 'Jeremy's Jig' from, of all thing, MND. All roads lead to the Globe, except for a few detours via the Swan etc.

   Best, as ever,