Search This Blog

Monday, 8 August 2011

Shakespeare - The Lyme Regis Connection

George Somers was born in Lyme Regis in 1554 and died in Bermuda in 1610. He was thus a contemporary of William Shakespeare.
Somers was a seaman, a trader and possibly a privateer and buccaneer and earned enough to pay for substantial estates in Dorset. However, the sea was in his first love and he returned to seafaring in the Caribbean and a command within the Royal Fleet. In 1609 he sailed from Plymouth as Admiral of a small fleet voyaging to Virginia in support of the colonists.
The fleet consisted of seven ships and two pinnaces with some 600 colonists. It sailed from Plymouth on 2nd June and had a contingent from Lyme on board. In a severe storm the fleet was scattered and Somers' ship was wrecked on the coast of Bermuda.
Two of the Lyme contingent were William Strachey and Silvester Jourdain who both wrote accounts of the voyage. Jourdain's book, A Discovery of the Barmudas otherwise called the Ile of Dievls was published in 1610.

It is believed that Shakespeare was aware of these two accounts of Somers' voyage and was inspired by them to write The Tempest which was first performed in 1611.

Source: Ebb and Flow - The Story of Maritime Lyme Regis by Peter Lacey which can be obtained from Lyme Regis Museum.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

Somers' flagship was called the Sea Venture, the Wikipedia article for which also mentions the Tempest connection... so it must be true!