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Fribbling report part 8

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...

1591, London

To Sir Francis Walsingham,


I was in Cheapside the other week, when one of them stick necked Puritans, a William Hacket, stood on the back of a cart and begins proclaiming himself the Messiah. He wasn't the Messiah, he was a very naughty boy. I say "was" on account of him being hanged, drawn and quartered and strewn across several bridges. If he's still there next Easter I suppose we'll know he was lying.

The Royal Shakespeare Company perform Henry VI Part 1
"Henry VI Part 1"
Lord Strange's theatre company has split up - something about creative differences – but I wouldn't be surprised to see them get back together in a few years time for a reunion tour.

Meanwhile Young William Shakespeare has been putting on his new play – a prequel, would you believe it, to his "Henry V." I said to Mr. Lucas who cleans out the sewers down Curtain Road, I said: "You'll never make a living in the theatre trotting out prequels," I said.

Anyway this play features some of his old mates from Lord Strange's Men and The Admiral's men. Indeed I saw that other famous fellow Christopher Marlowe, and his principle actor Edward Alleyn and our boy Will all at dinner together only a few days back. I know young Christopher to be covert operative in your employ much like myself and gave him the secret sign, raising one trouser leg, placing my hat on my head backwards and sticking out my tongue. The young fellow clearly doesn't recall his training very well for he gave me a most surly and lewd gesture in return.

He'll come to a bad end, that one.

As if the streets weren't crowded enough down here now we seem inundated with all manner of maimed and crippled types – ex-soldiers all. Bloody scroungers. And black men too! Dozens of them! Survivors from the Spanish slave galleys by all accounts. I hear tell they're from lands where the sun is so bright and warm by day that it burns skin black. They must be enjoying good old English weather then.

The sight of all these weird and wonderful strangers to these shores must be a revelation to a country boy like William. Then again they're an earthy lot back in Stratford – nature has few surprises for them.

Anyway from what I've heard of young Will's plays so far and seen of his behavior, he strikes me as a man who wants to keep his nose clean. In truth it's that Marlowe fellow who more troubles me. The devil's got an imp set aside for young master Marlowe. You mark my words!

Yours in secrecy and in health

John Fribbling
PS: No seditious behavior was 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

Christopher MarloweChristopher Marlowe


The River Thames, LondonShakespeare's London

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

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