Friday, 17 June 2011

Have you Heard?

Have you Heard?

Have you heard how Jane became Ophelia?
She slipped
while gathering marigolds at the mill pool's edge.
Her nephew, cousin, call him what you will,
(a lively man, you know him well)
took her sad end,
making her noble, mad for unrequited love,
leading to further madness.
chilling in a bath,

Death upon death
for art.

In 1569 Jane Shaxspere, aged two and a half, lost her footing while picking corn marigolds and tumbled into the mill pond, where she drowned. She lived twenty miles from Shakespeare's childhood home in Stratford-upon-Avon and it is possible that they were relatives.

The coroner, Henry Feeld, gave a very detailed report:
"By reason of collecting and holding out certain flowers called 'yelowe boddles' growing on the bank of Upton myll pond the same Jane Shaxspere the said sixteenth day of June about the eighth hour after noon suddenly and by misfortune fell into the same small channel and was drowned and then and there she instantly died."
Then he added:
"And thus the aforesaid flowers were the cause of the death of the aforesaid Jane, and they are worth nothing."

Emma Smith of Oxford University states that "while Shakespeare's plays draw on well-attested literary sources, they often have roots in gossip and domestic detail." 


  1. Yes, I did hear, but all the better for a second airing. Have you heard about the origins of 'Much Ado About Nothing'? More will follow - it's a good 'un.

  2. I adore wonderful pieces of random information. I actually took a literature course (too many years ago to admit) with a focus on "Hamlet". No one shared that piece of info.

  3. We learn something new every day. Poor little Jane and all because of marigolds.

  4. Tom, the next post is just for you!

    Dear Bonnie and Starting Over, this is newly discovered information, the result of a four year project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council where academics are looking at Tudor coroners' reports on accidental deaths.