June 10, 2011

The Real Ophelia?

ElizabethW102, a follower on Twitter, was kind enough to point out this fascinating article to me!
Recent research into old coroners reports from Tudor England has revealed a possible link between Shakespeare and a girl who could have been his inspiration for the tragic Ophelia. According to the article, "Dr Steven Gunn has found a coroner's report into the drowning of a Jane Shaxspere in 1569. The girl, possibly a young cousin of William Shakespeare, had been picking flowers when she fell into a millpond near Stratford upon Avon..." Gunn concludes that the similarities between Jane and Ophelia are "tantalising."
Here's an excerpt from the coroner's report:
"By reason of collecting and holding out certain flowers called 'yellow boddles' growing on the bank of a certain small channel at Upton aforesaid called Upton millpond - the same Jane Shaxspere the said sixteenth day of June about the eighth hour after noon of the same day suddenly and by misfortune fell into the same small channel and was drowned in the aforesaid small channel; and then and there she instantly died.
And thus the aforesaid flowers were the cause of the death of the aforesaid Jane."
It is certainly a fascinating discovery! The article does point out, however, that other historians do not necessarily agree with Gunn. For example, there are other "theories about the inspiration for Ophelia, including the story of Katharine Hamlet, who drowned in the river Avon, not far from Stratford upon Avon, in 1579 - a decade after Jane Shaxspere."

Like many things with Shakespeare, it is likely it will remain a mystery.

Here's the link to the full article. It is well worth the read! Thanks again ElizabethW102!

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