Peter Montgomery wrote:
> It's Carolyn Spurgeon's book that spurs me with the
> question -- when and where did he get the time to do all that
> learning and all that writing when, apparently he was
> so busy in the theatre doing productions, which is about
> the only thing we know about him for certain. He outclassed
> all the other writers of his time, and they weren't involved
> in production to nearly the same degree. It is too phenomenal.
> It doesn't add up. Even one simple fact, that he contributed
> some 1500 (somewhat less actaually) words to the language.
> >From my humble, limited perspective, what Shakespeare
> did looks humanly impossible.

Have you ever read an accounts of Dickens's activities and productivity?
Some people read & write very rapidly, and remember it quickly: the
Muses, after all, are the daughters of Memory.

It's easy to overemphasize the "learning" in Shakespeare's plays -- he
'just' made a relative little go an awful long way. I think Eliot
remarks on this someplace. And what it takes to contribute new words is
mostly a bit of brass. I invented "clichaic" when I was 16, but didn't
have the brass to stick by it, and since then I've seen it in print a
number of times. Anyone who wrote well at all in the days of the quill
pen had to have a fairly powerful short-term memory.

Browning if I recall correctly composed and corrected his poems
completely in memory before he wrote them down. Mozart composed music in
about the same way, and his musical learning, at a younger age, is as
extraordinary as Shakespeare's literary and historical learning. If you
start to try to pick it apart, Louis Armstrong's learning is humanly