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I have this memory of reading, decades ago, a story about a boy player named Tom – apprenticed to some member of the Chamberlain’s Men…

Or, well: I’m assuming it was the Chamberlain’s Men, but I do now, because I know that’s the company Shakespeare wrote for. I don’t remember whether Tom played any specific role – but he made Will mad by going and buying some unauthorised, pirated quarto of… Romeo and Juliet, perhaps? And I remember poor, mortified Tom’s master (Pope? Heminges?) saying that Will was not really mad at the boy, but at the unscrupulous printers.

And that’s more or less all I remember, except that it made me rather curious. I believe it was my first exposition to that world of Elizabethan theatre that was to become so important to me many years later – and I’d really like to read it again. Unfortunately, I have no idea. It was in some school book that I never found again. I incline to think it was translated from English, and a slice of a larger story, some children’s novel perhaps – but in truth, I’m far from sure. And, for once and for a surprise, even the all-answering Internet has been no help at all.

I’d rather hoped it might come from Antonia Forest’s The Player’s Boy – whose hero actually is a Nicholas, and not a Tom, but then again, am I really sure about the name? Anyway the book contains no such episode, so I’m only left with the doubt that I might not even have the boy’s name right…

Well, it’s been a single reading, more than thirty years ago – so perhaps it’s not all that surprising that it’s all somewhat hazy… but I’d really love to find the story again.

Does this ring any bells, o Readers? Do you have any idea where I could find (perhaps) Tom’s story? Any suggestion would be much appreciated.

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