The only surviving letter written to him – though apparently never delivered – also attests to his role as a middle-man, an arranger. In October 1598, the Stratford-upon-Avon corporation was in trouble. Richard Quiney—whose son would marry Shakespeare’s daughter in 1616— wrote from the Bell Inn in London to ‘To my Loving good friend & countryman’, begging him to help with arranging a £30 loan (then a very sizeable sum of money) on behalf of the Stratford Corporation. Many biographers have read this document as Shakespeare being asked for the loan directly, but the wording suggests otherwise. Quiney says:

You shall neither lose credit nor money by me, the Lord willing, & now but persuade your self so as I hope & you shall not need to fear butt with all hearty thankfulness I will hold my time & content your friend, & if we Bargain farther you shall be the paymaster yourself.

The key phrase in understanding the request as loan arrangement rather than loan provision is ‘I will hold my time & content your friend’. He is reassuring Shakespeare that he will keep to the repayment schedule and thus satisfy ‘your friend’: the person of Shakespeare’s acquaintance who will provide the money. Were the loan to come from Shakespeare himself, Quiney would say ‘content you’. However, when he goes on to say ‘if we Bargain farther you shall be the paymaster yourself’ there is a suggestion that he might also want to borrow funds from Shakespeare personally. Quiney’s father Adrian had suggested to him in another letter that he might get a loan from Shakespeare to finance the purchase of wool stockings.


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