Simon Forman and the Dark Lady

  • A. L. Rowse


Who was Simon Forman? He was someone whom Shakespeare would certainly have known of, for several people in Shakespeare’s immediate circle came to consult Forman, medically and astrologically. Shakespeare’s colleague, Ben Jonson, mentions Dr Forman two or three times, and his play The Alchemist owes something to Forman’s career. Then, too, Forman is well known to Shakespeare scholars, for he is the one person to give us an account of seeing some of Shakespeare’s plays at the Globe in the spring of 1611. Again, Forman’s name was cited in a famous trial, that of the wicked young Countess of Somerset and her husband for the poisoning of Sir Thomas Overbury in the Tower of London. Overbury was murdered in 1613. Forman had nothing to do with that; he had died two years before. But the young Countess had been a client of his — she had come to him for love-potions and erotic figurines to compel the love of Robert Carr, who was King James I’s boyfriend. Whether owing to Forman’s arts or no, she succeeded in marrying Carr. It all made a great scandal, in which the poor King and the Archbishop of Canterbury were both involved.


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© A. L. Rowse 1975

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  • A. L. Rowse

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