How Shakespeare came to
write The Tempest


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.

[J H McG]

©John McGivering 2009 All rights reserved