Visit Your Local PBS Station PBS Home PBS Home Programs A-Z TV Schedules Watch Video Donate Shop PBS Search PBS
  playwright game the show for educators
dossier players locations evidence glossary works In Search of Shakespeare - Home
« back     Full Timeline     Fribbling Reports


Fribbling report part 2

John Fribbling is a fictional character. Despite his non-existence, the characters and events that he describes are, to the best of our knowledge, true and accurate...

1585, Stratford-upon-Avon

To Sir Francis Walsingham,

Firstly I would like to apologize once again if the somewhat long-winded manner in which I last communicated with you has in any way caused offence. May I say how grateful I am for your kindness in pointing out that I have a horse's ass where my head should be. This goes someway to explaining my lack of success in arranging my hair in anything even vaguely approaching a presentable fashion, and also my failure to secure a wife.

Thank you also for your gift of this new potato thing. I look forward to smoking it later.

Having failed up to now to discover much about the whereabouts of young William Shakespeare, I have as you so wisely suggested instead been maintaining an observation of the family home. I can now report that Anne Hathaway, William's wife, has given birth to twins who are named Hamnet and Judith after close friends of theirs who are known Catholic sympathizers.

Having peeked through the window of the Shakespeare home at an inopportune moment during the birth I fear I have quite lost my appetite for the search for a wife and such matters, so instead I shall be redoubling my energies to track down the young lad's whereabouts and activities.

Some around here say that he fled with his tail between his legs after the episode, which might or might not have happened on Sir Thomas Lucy's land. Others say he stays close to home, but keeps a low profile. It is not a good time to have powerful Protestant enemies I suspect.

There are even those who say that he hasn't been around these parts for many a year. Though I think I have a good enough understanding of the act of making babies to hypothesize that he must at least have been around his wife Anne's parts at some point during this past year.

On your business I made a journey north to the Catholic heartland of Lancashire, and in particular the region of Hoghton Tower. Here I had heard tell of a young man in the employ of one Ferdinando Stanley, a wealthy, influential and some say Catholic individual. This young man fit the description of the Stratford Glover's son, but upon further investigation I discovered him to be a tutor by the name of William Shakeshaft. So it couldn't have been him then could it?

Otherwise all is quiet – apart from the palpable loathing of the locals for the new religion being forced upon them, and the fear that they shall be strung up gutted like salmon, burned, and trampled into little bits that is.

You will be pleased to learn that my cover as a balladeer is intact, and that my services are now much in demand. I am now paid to stand at the very edge of town and there perform my rousing and patriotic musical entertainments, which are said to have tremendous benefits in scaring away the Spanish.

Your servant as always

John Fribbling

PS: No seditious activity observed.

Fribbling Reports

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10


portrait not availableJohn Fribbling

Sir Francis Walsingham portraitSir Francis Walsingham

Sir Thomas Lucy's bustSir Thomas Lucy

sketch of Anne HathawayAnne Hathaway


Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-AvonStratford upon Avon, Warwickshire

©MayaVision International, 2003 (site credits) (site feedback)