Will Sommers' Suit

John H. Astington


The early 1620s print by Francis Delaram of "Will Sommers King Henry's Jester" shows signs of being influenced by a tradition of stage representation of the figure, beginning in earnest in the early 1590s. The Admiral's men and their successors staged at least three plays featuring Sommers, the last and most successful Samuel Rowley's When You See Me You Know Me (c. 1604), a historical romance set in the court of King Henry VIII. The article examines the likely influence of scenes and motifs from this play, which probably held the stage for some time, on the composition and appearance of the Delaram picture, considering both within the context of the certifiable biography and the considerable legend and mythology of Sommers himself. The status of the print as an "illustration of the stage" is given critical attention.

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Popular Entertainment Studies ISSN 1837-9303