Ben Jonson: A Life by Ian Donaldson

By Ian Donaldson

Ben Jonson was once the best of Shakespeare's contemporaries. within the century following his dying he used to be noticeable by way of many because the most interesting of all English writers, dwelling or lifeless. His popularity rested not just at the a number of performs he had written for the theatre, yet on his achievements over 3 a long time as primary masque-writer to the early Stuart courtroom, the place he had labored in artistic, and infrequently stormy, collaboration with Inigo Jones. some of the most entire poets of the age, he had turn into - in truth if no longer in identify - the 1st Poet Laureate in England. Jonson's existence was once filled with drama. Serving within the Low international locations as a tender guy, he overcame a Spanish adversary in unmarried wrestle in complete view of either the armies. His early satirical play, The Isle of canine, landed him in criminal, and taken all theatrical job in London to a brief — and extremely approximately to an everlasting — standstill. He was once 'almost on the gallows' for killing a fellow actor after a quarrel, and switched over to Catholicism whereas watching for execution. He supped with the Gunpowder conspirators at the eve in their deliberate coup at Westminster. After satirizing the Scots in Eastward Ho! he used to be imprisoned back; and all through his occupation used to be time and again interrogated approximately performs and poems concept to include seditious or slanderous fabric. In his center years, twenty stone in weight, he walked to Scotland and again, probably in part to fulfil a guess, and partially to determine the land of his forebears. He travelled in Europe as coach to the mischievous son of Sir Walter Ralegh, who 'caused him to be drunken and useless drunk' and wheeled provocatively in the course of the streets of Paris. in the course of his later years he presided over a sociable membership within the Apollo Room in Fleet highway, combined with the main realized students of his day, and considered with prepared curiosity the political, spiritual, and medical controversies of the day. Ian Donaldson's new biography attracts on freshly came across writings by means of and approximately Ben Jonson, and locates his paintings in the social and highbrow contexts of his time. Jonson emerges from this learn as a extra complicated and unstable personality than his personal self-declarations (and a lot glossy scholarship) might permit, and as a author whose paintings strikingly foresees - and every now and then pre-emptively satirizes - the fashionable age.

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She became the last woman to fall for Bodenheim’s charms. He quickly dragged her down to his level, and they slept on park benches or in abandoned buildings. He mocked her and sometimes beat her, but she remained doggedly by his side. They married in 1952. Ruth was friends with an unbalanced ex-convict named Harold Weinberg. On a bitterly cold evening in February 1954, she and Bodenheim took refuge in Weinberg’s room in a cheap hotel near the Bowery. Weinberg passed a bottle of whisky round, then started to make love to Ruth.

In 1779, having completed his apprenticeship, he was accepted into the recently established Royal Academy Schools, where he consolidated his artistic skills but railed against the fashionable oil painters of the day like Sir Joshua Reynolds (then the Royal Academy’s president), preferring the strong, clean lines of classical and Renaissance artists. He also set himself up as a commercial engraver, a trade he would practice for the rest of his life. In 1782, he married Catherine Boucher. She was illiterate, but he taught her how to read and write, and she became an assistant in his work and devoted companion to the end.

He kept it in an old grandfather clock case in an upper room of his house, along with other natural curiosities including a stuffed hedgehog and a starfish hanging from the ceiling. He was diligent about carrying out Hannah’s final request, and sometimes showed his unusual patient off to visitors (among them the young Thomas de Quincy). White would lead them to the clock case, which was kept upright, open a door at the top of it, lift a little curtain of cloth and reveal Hannah’s face, which was said to look perfectly lifelike.

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