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William Strachey's "True Reportory" and Shakespeare: A Closer Look at the Evidence

From: Shakespeare Quarterly
Volume 59, Number 3, Fall 2008
pp. 245-273 | 10.1353/shq.0.0017



Challenges to The Tempest's reliance on William Strachey's 1610 True Reportory (first published in 1625) as an inspiration and a source have proliferated in the past fifteen years. Those challenges were once confined to anti-Stratfordian publications but now appear increasingly in mainstream journals, despite the revisionists' serious distortions of the texts and contexts they attempt to overturn. By contrast, this essay argues that the evidence is very strong that Strachey's letter circulated in manuscript, in two or more copies. A comparison of True Reportory to The Tempest strongly suggests that the play has important congruities with the narrative, as it does with many other, mostly European-centered, texts. The play's indebtedness to Strachey confirms that the traditional dating of The Tempest's composition to 1610–11, initially proposed by Edmond Malone and seconded by Morton Luce, remains correct.

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