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Fribbling report part 4

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...

1587, Stratford-upon-Avon

To Sir Francis Walsingham,

You will no doubt be happy to learn that the life threatening dose of the plague that I feared I had succumbed to in my last communication turned out to be a bit of chimney soot, and a touch of the runs. I am now hale and hearty, and prepared once more to continue in my selfless defense of the realm from agitators, seditionists and whatever other persons your good self may be averse to at this time.

I now have some reason to believe that my principle target for surveillance – principle mainly because he is the only one I have yet to set eyes upon - young William Shakespeare may well have been living under my nose for some time. And it is rumored he may even be enjoying your patronage so to speak.

A little while back we were visited in Stratford by the Queen's Men, a company of players that I believe you are patron to. They were most amusing fellows all, in fact I'm sure there wasn't a dry seat in the house by the time they'd finished with us.

William Knell murder scene, Thame, Oxfordshire
William Knell murder scene, Thame,
It turns out that one of their number had been most terminally killed in a drunken brawl in Thame. However rumor has it that by the time they left Stratford they were a full company again.

Now all this might be just scurrilous and mischievous rumor – there are times when I think folk around here think my disguise as a balladeer just a tiny bit improbable on account of my evident good breeding – and therefore the information false. But if it is true, then isn't this man, whom I am bound to watch out for, now part of the company that you employ to spy on all those rich old Catholics with their private shows in their big blooming houses?

Use a Catholic to catch a Catholic – cunning as a badger sir, if you don't mind me saying.

Well traveled they are too! Leicester, York, Norwich, London, Greenwich – they get around faster than the pox. One of their number told me over a pint or seven of Old Dog Basket that their next performance would be in front of Good Queen Bess Herself. Imagine that. Young William Shakespeare, a Glover's son capering and cavorting in front of her majesty while those who's job it is to discover his whereabouts sit on their fat backsides... in... Stratford... oh...

I shall be concluding this letter now my Lord, I suddenly feel a terrific need to be elsewhere, which is partly to do with my aforesaid bowel condition, and a lot more to with the fact that I've realized I probably should be following the slippery little bugger shouldn't I?

Your loyal servant

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

Elizabeth IElizabeth I


The River Thames, LondonShakespeare's London

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

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