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The following is an imagined account from the life of George Wilkins, an English dramatist and writer who was often found in criminal activity. He formed a relationship with William Shakespeare in London and collaborated with him on the play Pericles, The Prince of Tyre


I expect you’re surprised to find me in this company aren’t you, after all the trouble I’ve been in? Up in court time and again for being drunk, for beating women up, for keeping a disorderly house (as they call it) - you name it. But there was a time when I thought I might make a respectable living as a writer. My father was a poet, he knew Edmund Spenser and people like that. I know Latin, and I’ve translated some books, and I’ve written plays for the King’s Men, no less. There were those terrible happenings up north - the Calverley family – a man who murdered his wife and kids and was tried for it and pressed to death with stones, heavier and heavier until he could stand it no more – a terrible way to go, he lasted for hours before giving up the ghost. Well I read all about it in a pamphlet, and so did my pal Thomas Middleton. He started to write a play called A Yorkshire Tragedy – never got round to finishing it, but a publisher got hold of it and pretended it was by Shakespeare.

And I wrote a play about it too, called The Miseries of Enforced Marriage, a good piece of work though I say it myself, and it was put on by the King’s Men and published. By that time I’d gotten to know Shakespeare, we’d come across each other when he was lodging with a family called Mountjoy, up in Silver Street. It began to look as if I might make a decent living as a playmaker, and Shakespeare wanted to write a play about Pericles and needed help especially with scenes set in a brothel, which is where I came in handy, and we wrote it together and soon afterwards I turned it all into a book called The Painful Adventures of Pericles, Prince of Tyre which was printed. And the play was printed too, in a lousy edition and did very well on stage but I never made a penny out of it, and I took to drink and – well, that’s it, really.

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