Early Myths of Shakespeare’s Life
The scant details of Shakespeare’s life were soon enhanced by myths. It was believed that John Shakespeare was a butcher, which led to the rumour of Will learning how to slaughter: “When he kill’d a calf, he would doe it in a high style, and make a speech”. This eco-friendly Shakespeare develops into a Robin Hood figure in a tale about poaching deer from one Sir Thomas Lucy, by whom he was prosecuted (and possibly whipped).
I RESPONDED BY NAILING UP A SCURRILOUS BALLAD ABOUT “LOUSY LUCY” THAT FORCED THE LANDOWNER TO LEAVE THE COUNTY FOR A WHILE. VERSIONS OF THIS BALLAD TURNED UP THROUGHOUT THE 18TH CENTURY, UNTIL IT WAS QUERIED WHETHER SIR THOMAS LUCY EVER POSSESSED A DEER PARK.
Against the troubled background of the French Revolution, even this minor attack on the aristocracy was declared false. But the anecdote may nevertheless contain a grain of truth.