School of Night

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Walter Ralegh (1554—1618) courtier, explorer, and author

Royal Shakespeare Company

Love's Labour's Lost

Thomas Harriot (1560—1621) mathematician and natural philosopher

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A name drawn from a satirical allusion in Love's Labour's Lost (iv. iii. 214), and first ascribed by Arthur Acheson in 1903 (Shakespeare and the Rival Poet) to a supposed circle of speculative thinkers led by Harriot and Ralegh, and including Marlowe, Chapman, Lawrence Keymis, and the ‘Wizard Earl’ Northumberland. J. Dover Wilson, G. B. Harrison in his edition of Willobie his Avisa (1926), and M. C. Bradbrook in The School of Night (1936) supported the theory that Love's Labour's Lost was an attack upon this coterie, which engaged in free‐thinking philosophical debate (not necessarily atheistic) and dabbled in hermeticism, alchemy, and the occult. The existence of such a circle is now widely disputed.

Subjects: Shakespeare Studies and Criticism.

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