"How Shakespeare
came to write
The Tempest"

(notes edited
by John McGivering)

the letter
[April 2nd 2009]

Notes on the Text

The Spectator a British weekly magazine first published on 6 July 1828. and still (2009) going strong; also the name of a series of essays by Addison and Steele which appeared in 1711 and 1712. See “The Propagation of Knowledge”, (Debits and Credits, pp. 286, line 4 and 289, line 27

the 'Tempest' a play by Shakespeare, set on a mysterious island, and first performed on 1 November 1611.

[All quotations below below are from "The Tempest" unless otherwise indicated; Ed.]

[Title] Shakspere William Shakespeare (1564-1616) English dramatist and poet. The spelling used by Kipling, SHAKSPERE was popular in the later 19th Century, but eventually the accepted spelling became SHAKESPEARE as in most of his printed work.

such stuff as dreams are made of A small misquotation from the play; Shakespeare's wording was 'such stuff as dreams are made on. [Act 4. scene 1].

Malone Edward Malone, (1741-1812) Irish Shakespearean scholar who produced a ten-volume edition of the works of Shakespeare. in 1790.

Sir George Somers British Admiral (right) (1554-1610) founder of the English colony of Bermuda, also known officially as 'The Somers Isles'.

In 1609, appointed Admiral of the Virginia Company's Third Supply Fleet, he sailed in the flagship for Jamestown, Virginia. The fleet ran into a storm and his ship began to take in water and was in danger of sinking, so he put her ashore on what turned out to be Bermuda. All hands (and a dog) survived. Some believe that this incident was one of the inspirations for Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest”.

Bermuda one of a group of islands in the North Atlantic.

claw the ship off a lee-shore an attempt by a sailing-vessel to work to windward to avoid being blown ashore. A difficult and dangerous procedure in bad weather.

workt worked, reminiscent of Elizabethan spelling

What care these brawlers for the name of King ? 'What care these roarers for the name of King ?' [Act 1 scene 1].

banning his luck cursing his luck - wishing he had not joined !

doit a\ very small copper coin from the Netherlands.

raree-show a peep-show or other cheap street entertainment.

Sebastian says to Antonio Characters in “The Tempest”. Sebastian is brother to the King of Naples. Antonio has usurped the title of his brother Prospero, Duke of Milan. Both have been cast away on the island.

I think he will carry the island home in his pocket. [Act 3, scene 1].

full of noises

The isle is full of noises
Sounds and sweet airs….
[Act 3, scene 2]
prickly heat see Dr. Gillian Sheehan’s notes on "Kipling abd Medicine."

Trinculo a jester to the King of Naples

hangings and a placard The Elizabethan stage was usually bare, occasionally with draperies, and perhaps a notice saying A DESERT PLACE , or wherever the action was supposed to be taking place.

Hamilton capital of the Bermudas

Stephano’s butt of sack a cask of white wine (sack) then imported from Spain and Portugal, belonging to a drunken butler in “The Tempest”

yond same black cloud 'yond same black cloud, yond huge one, looks like a foul bombard that would shed his liquor. ' [Act 2, scene 2]

a bombard was an early form of cannon.

broacht a cask that has been broached or tapped.

palmettoes one of several types of palm–tree.

Aurelio and Isabella The Historye of Aurelio and Isabelle, Daughter of the Kinge of Scottes ... Entered to Edward Aggas, November 20, 1588.

Stokes, however, (Francis Griffin Stokes, Who’s Who in Shakespeare, Bracken Books 1924, page 315) maintains:
no play or novel can be indicated as the source of “The Tempest”. In minor details, however hints are clearly traceable.
So there may well be something in what Kipling says in “The Coiner", or for that matter, in "Proofs of Holy Writ".

waiting on his demon waiting for inspiration from what Kipling called his 'Personal Daemon'. See Something of Myself p. 208, and an article in The Spectator of 28 July 2003, quoted in KJ 299:

Chaucer was one of the four inexplicable geniuses of English literature, along with Shakespeare, Dickens and Kipling: that is, he had a daemon which enabled him to create works of stunning originality that sprang from nothing, with no precursor.
Prospero the Duke of Milan who was cast adrift with his daughter Miranda, landed on the island, and survived with the aid of magic.

Caliban is a savage and deformed slave who plays an important part in the play.

half-seas over drunk.

"The Coiner"


First published in The Story-Teller for December 1931 with “A Naval Mutiny”. Collected with “A Naval Mutiny” in Limits and Renewals (1932), the Sussex Edition Volume 11, page 173 and Volume 14, page 412, and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library).

Other titles for the poem include ”Shakespeare and “The Tempest”, “The Vision of the Enchanted Island”, and “The Birth of ‘The Tempest'.

See KJ 154/8, 156/05, 233/60, 299/09. Also a letter from Roger Lancelyn Green, the Editor of the Kipling Journal to The Times of 20 March 1965. (see ORG Volume 5, page 2528).

Notes on the Text

[Verse 1] the Bermudas a group of islands in the Atlantic Ocean some 600 miles off the coast of the United States.

Master responsible for sailing the vessel under the general direction of the Admiral

Swabber one who washes the decks, etc.

Bo’sun responsible for masts, sails and rigging

[Verse 4] Dover a port in Kent on the South coast of England

Southwark then a suburb of London, on the South bank opposite

the City The City of London. The Globe Theatre, where many of Shakespeare’s plays were staged, was outside the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor . A replica of the theatre (right) was opened in 1997 in the South Bank of the Thames.

[Verse 6] Mulled sack a white wine from Spain, warmed up with spices – a 'punch'.

[Verse 7] A Coiner One who makes counterfeit money - in this context, however, a writer who turns a plain narrative into a wonderful story, like Shakespeare - or Kipling.

[Verse 8] A crown or five shillings, twenty-five pence in decimal currency, worth some £45 in 2008 values.

We bit them and rang them tests for counterfeit coins.

"The Craftsman"


ORG Volume 8 (Uncollected No .1059) reports the first publication of this poem in The Years Between (1919) and collected (slightly amended) in Definitive Verse, the Sussex Edition Volume 33, and the Burwash Edition Volume 26. It is also collected in A Choice of Kipling’s Verse, by T. S. Eliot, and The Works of Rudyard Kipling (Wordsworth Poetry Library).

Notes on the Text

[Verse 1] The Mermaid an inn in Cheapside in the City of London in Elizabethan times – haunt of many distinguished writers.

Boanerges “Sons of thunder”, meaning loud-voiced preachers, the nickname given by Jesus to the disciples James and John (Mark 3, 17).

[Verse 2] Cotswold 'The Cotswolds' is an upland area of great beauty in westerm England, in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, and extending into parts of Wiltshire, Somerset and Worcestershire.

Cleopatra The tragic Queen of Egypt in Shakespeare's “Antony and Cleopatra”.

[Verse 3] Sir Thomas Sir Thomas Lucy,(1532-1600) of Cnarlecote Park near Stratford. The unfounded legend persists that the young Shakespeare poached deer in his park. (see Shakespeare by Ivor Brown, The Reprint Society 1951).

Juliet the tragic heroine of “Romeo and Juliet”

[Verse 4] Bankside a road along the riverside in Southwark, just over the Thames from the City – the original Globe Theatre was nearby.

Lady Macbeth the wife of Macbeth, Thane of Fife, who encourages her husband to murder King Duncan in the play “Macbeth”

[Verse 5] Sabbath Sunday, the first day of the week in the Christian calendar.

Avon the river on which Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-on-Avon, lies, rising in Northamptonshire, and eventually flowing into the River Severn at Tewkesbury. avon means 'river' in the ancient Celtic language spoken in Britain before the Romans came, and there are at least four other 'River Avons' in England and Scotland. .

Ophelia is wooed by Hamlet but goes mad and drowns herself. “Hamlet”

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2009 All rights reserved