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John Dee, Edward Kelley and William Shakespeare: Alchemy and espionage at the court of Rudolph II

In his now-famous diary, on December 19, 1586, John Dee writes:

19 Dec. On the 19th day (by the new calendar), to please Master Edward Garland (who had been sent as a messenger from the Emperor of Muscovy to ask me to come to him, etc) and his brother Francis, E.K. made a public demonstration of the philosophers' stone in the proportion of one grain (no bigger than the least grain of sand) to 1 oz and a 1Î4 of common (mercury) and almost 1 oz of the best gold was produced. When we had weighed the gold, we divided it up and gave the crucible to Edward at the same time.

Who are these "Garland brothers" who witnessed such a significant demonstration? Could one of them, Francis Garland, be the cover name for secret agent and courier William Shakespeare? If in fact Dee's courier was William Shakespeare, this connection to John Dee and Edward Kelley and their intersecting magical and alchemical circles can help us answer two of the most vexing question in Shakespearian scholarship: first, why is it so difficult to find references to the Bard in his own time? And second, how and why does the work of someone who is all but invisible through 1593 become associated with the plays that for more than two decades dominate Elizabethan and Jacobean drama, and become the most-read and most-performed plays in the English language?

More study notes about John Dee