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LET’S REMEMBER ROBERT GREENE—RASCAL, REPROBATE AND WRITER


woodcutIt may not be widely known but September 3 is Robert Greene Day, an excellent reason for raising a glass to toast the anniversary of the death of the rascally Greene, believed to have been the first person ever to earn a living by writing.
   
Greene (11 July 1558 – 3 September 1592), the most popular English author of his day, was a notorious profligate who died from a lifetime, he confessed, of “riot” and “incontinence,” though the immediate cause was apparently “a surfett of pickle herringe and rennish wine.”

   He wrote plays, romances and racy, semi-autobiographical tales of dissipation, capitalising on his scandalous reputation. He also specialized in “cony-cattching pamphlets,” a series of tales based on the nefarious techniques used by the con men and women of the Elizabethan underworld. Under the guise of informing and forearming an unsuspecting public, such “rogue literature” was a popular genre in Shakespeare’s day.     

  Pamphlets like Greene’s were story-based, others merely cataloged various tricks, telling us, for example, that a hooker is one who goes about with a long, iron-hooked staff snatching clothing left out to dry on balconies and hedges.



 He is probably best-known today for a
posthumously published pamphlet, Greene’s Groats-Worth of Wit, which contained an attack on  his fellow dramatist William Shakespeare, whom he accused of plagiarism and being a man of dubious scruples.


  So on September 3 let’s remember Robert Greene, the hedonistic predecessor of all profligates, rascals….and journalists.

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