I guess I always thought that most of Shakespeare’s “friends” recognized his genius and organized themselves around him like some sort of disciples re-learning their craft. I don’t know where I got that, it’s just the image that works for me – they’ve got this good thing going, they think they’re at the top of their game, then along comes this new kid who pretty much reinvents how it should be done, and then they’re suddenly in a position to try and keep up with him.
Specifically, though, I’m curious about Ben Jonson since he’s typically recognized as the most famous and successful of Shakespeare’s friends. What exactly was that relationship? Twice today I spotted references like this one:
Jonson was pals with Shakespeare (and defended him often), but considered himself a genius and Shakespeare a hack (he often heckled Shakespeare’s plays).
…and I realized that I probably have a lot to learn about this aspect of Shakespeare’s life. I get that Jonson thought he was a genius, I’ve seen that before. But is it true that he looked down on Shakespeare’s work? If there was really any heckling I can only assume that it was good-natured among friends, and I can totally believe that.
Who wants to take the floor and tell us about Mr. Jonson?