Manuscript of songs from The Tempest, c. 1650–67


The lyrics for Ariel’s songs ‘Full fathom five’ and ‘Where the bee sucks’ were set to music by composer and lutenist Robert Johnson (c.1583–1633), probably around 1620.

Johnson grew up in the Blackfriars household of George Carey (Shakespeare’s patron from 1594 to 1603), became lutenist to James I in 1604 and later composed for plays and court masques, including music for The Winter’s Tale and Cymbeline (both performed at the Blackfriars Playhouse). Johnson’s Tempest songs appear here in the hand of music publisher, John Playford; they are wrongly attributed to John Wilson.

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