From Clare Asquith
Sir, One correction to Peter Milward's otherwise cogent article "Shakespeare and 'the Old Religion" (Feature,
September 5). Milward proposes the martyr Mark Barkworth as the "Turtle", or dove, in Shakespeare's poem The Phoenix and the Turtle, citing as evidence a suggestion by Clara de Chambrun that Barkworth was once betrothed to the martyred "Phoenix" Anne Line.
However, this suggestion occurs only in a work of fiction, My Shakespeare Rise!, which de Chambrun based on the imaginary reminiscences of an old actor. She makes no reference to the theory in her final and most authoritative work, A Portrait Restored. The most convincing identification for the two martyrs remains that of Anne and Roger Line, put forward by Finnis and Martin (TLS, April 2003) — a theory which fits neatly with the circumstances of the Line's married life and which is supported by an ingenious series of puns at the heart of the poem.
Yours faithfully, CLARE ASQUITH Frame, Somerset