William Shakespeare Friends, Contempories and Rivals

Faed's painting Shakespeare and some contemporaries!

The Biography of William Shakespeare
  • Who were his friends?
  • Who were his contemporaries?
  • Who were his rivals?
  • Where did they meet? What was the 'Friday Club'?
  • Interesting information about the family, life and times of William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare in London


  • The above picture is a section of Faed's painting called 'Shakespeare and his Contemporaries'
  • This painting is also known as Shakespeare and His Friends at the Mermaid Tavern
  • The full picture below features the contemporaries, friends and rivals of William Shakespeare!

- Shakespeare is seated in the centre
- The standing figure on Shakespeare's left is that of Sir Walter Raleigh
- He leans on the shoulder of the Earl of Southampton
- Seated in the right foreground with his back to the spectator is Sir Robert Cotton, with Thomas Dekker on his right
- The figures seated immediately behind Shakespeare are Ben Jonson, Donne, and Daniel
- The figure seated at the rear of the table is Bacon, and with him are seated Fletcher, Dorset and Camden
- In the rear of the seated group stands Beaumont with hand extended and next to him stands Selden with Sylvester on the spectator's extreme left.

  • Elizabethan taverns, which also served as restaurants and inns for travellers, also offered private rooms that patrons could rent for eating and drinking, gambling, and as general meeting places
  • One of these tavern rooms was rented by a literary group, known as the Friday Street Club, that met on the first Friday of every month at the Mermaid tavern
  • It became the gathering place for actors, playwrights, authors and poets
  • This a literary club first begun in 1603 and is said to have been started by Sir Walter Raleigh
  • The Mermaid Tavern was located in Cheapside, to the east of St. Paul's Cathedral
  • It had entrances from both Friday Street and Bread Street hence the name the "Friday Street Club" which was also known as the "Mermaid Club"
  • Members of the Friday Street Club included Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Francis Beaumont, John Fletcher. John Donne, Robert Herrick, John Selden and Sir Walter Raleigh
  • They met on the first Friday of every month!

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