Or, some classic Grade-A shouting about Delia Bacon and the anti-Stratfordians.
My spouse has asked me to read your posts later in the morning. While he appreciates my bursts of laughter, he would prefer to sleep a bit more. Thanks for giving my morning a giggly start.
This is for the giveaway because I absolutely LOVED Tip for the Hangman, even though I'm forever salty about what happened to Kit.
Also, if you haven't done her yet, Helena Blavatsky is a fascinating dirtbag. She's connected to the whole society of grifters back in the 1800s who were convincing Americans that spirits were real, and also she could supposedly talk to her favorite Tibetan monk from anywhere in the world (i.e., there is some Orientalism in there, so watch out for that, but she was a wild grifter).
I don't have a suggestion for you, but all this Shakespeare/Marlowe talk can't help but remind me of Upstart Crow, my absolute favourite underrated comedy show about Shakespeare. Please tell me you have seen it!
Come on Allison, who are you trying to kid (or cover up for)? It was obviously Dirtbag-in-Chief King James I/VI. After all, didn't he also write the Bible?
And while we are talking about regal dirtbags I would like to propose George IV, the erstwhile Prince Regent, for a future episode. Not only was he a lazy glutton, he hired boxers to keep his wife and Queen Caroline out of Westminster Abbey during his coronation. She was running around outside banging on the doors to be let in. His obituary in the Times read: "There never was an individual less regretted by his fellow-creatures than this deceased king. What eye has wept for him? What heart has heaved one throb of unmercenary sorrow? ... If he ever had a friend – a devoted friend in any rank of life – we protest that the name of him or her never reached us".
Having said all that, if the present day Royal Family got up to that sort of dirtbaggery I would be first in the queue to camp outside the palaces when they have one of their events...
OH! How about John Ruskin, the pre-raphelite brotherhood dude, who was an overall dirtbag but especially to his wife? She left him for another PRB, John Everett Millais so DRAMA. I'm betting pretty much anyone from PBR could suffice come to think of it.
Sign me up for the contest! Suggested dirtbags: Jim Fisk, the 19th-century railroad magnate and dirtbag, and Jack Parsons, the 20th-century rocket scientist and dirtbag. Sorry if you’ve done them already, I only subscribed recently.
May I suggest the Jiajing Emperor, who somehow spent the entire fortune of the Ming dynasty on Taoist temples and alchemical elixirs (this, naturally, ended up killing him), went on strike for 25 years which I didn’t know emperors could even do?? and, most ridiculously, was nearly strangled by his concubines for mistreating the *hundreds* of virgins he kept captive for the purpose of making their blood into a longevity potion called “red lead”
I so look forward to these fortnightly Dirtbags! How about writing about total dickhead, bottom of his West Point class, rapist, murderer of Native American women & children who also had a Native American “mistress” (betcha she didn’t have much choice...) George Armstrong Custer? Anyone who thinks he’s admirable bought into his own (and his wife’s after his death) major PR campaign. Just sayin’.
As usual, another great submission. I can't wait for each one to pop into my inbox and introduce me to another dirtbag. I have a suggestion for you. How about King Charles VI of France, the king who thought he was made of glass? Not only do we have the glass thing but we also have a mistress, the expulsion of the Jews, a knight known as The Bastard of Polignac and the Ball of the Burning Men. Seems like pretty good territory for you and I would love to see what you have to say about him.
Brilliant as always--I particularly appreciate this one because I’ve always thought this theory was stupid myself, though perhaps not quite as passionately as you. And so glad I saw Robert Greene looking like a cob of corn bent over a table before I die, so thanks for that!
I adore this newsletter, and this one in particular was great, because the “not really Shakespeare” debate has always irritated the hell out of my English major ass.
As for dirtbags… hmm, how about Bessie Smith, the Empress of the Blues? On researching I have mixed her up a bit with her mentor-maybe-lover Ma Rainey — Ma was the one who got arrested for having an orgy with her chorus girls — but there’s still plenty of bisexual shenanigans, fan stabbings, terrible family, and general dirtbaggery to go around. I keep meaning to buy the biography mentioned here:
but I’d love the Dirtbag treatment!
This is always on my “read instantly” list. Today was, as always, hilarious. I feel like there are probably numerous artistic dirtbags in history. Have you done Caravaggio? I mean, he may not be quite dirtbag level but oh my, the drama. There is also John Wilkes, the MP who got in trouble for writing pornographic poetry and had a long running feud with the Earl of Sandwich.
I will recommend for a future dirtbag: Paschal Beverly Randolf. One of the early American occultists who had so WILD views on race, gender, and sex. He believed one reason white people inferior was because the men couldn't pleasure the women at the moment of conception, so their kids came out evil. And he died under disputed circumstances. Love this newsletter! Thank you for writing it.
Sign me up :-). If you haven't done Ivan IV, he probably qualifies. Queen Ranavalona I of Madagascar probably does just for the buffalo hunt "incident."
Hi Allison, I love your posts so much AND have already pre-ordered a copy of your soon-to-be-available book! So I am not really entering the contest BUT I do happen to be in Portugal at the moment and staying in a former residence of Queen Leonor Teles. By all accounts she is a true 14th century dirtbag...referred to as “the Treacherous” by her contemporaries on account of her adultery and treason. Good stuff, no??
I can't lie: #5 totally speaks to me. I don't want Marlowe to have died young in a stupid tavern brawl, and even though the obvious solution usually is the correct one, it's also boring AF. I mean, of course Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare, but what fun is that?
As for dirtbags, how about the truly dreadful Paulo Giordano Orsini, Duke of Bracciano?