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A: Edward Bond Pf: 1975, London Pb: 1976 G: Drama in 8 scenes S: East Anglia and London, 1815–c.1845 C: 37m, 7fThe poet John Clare is one of the mummers performing their play at Christmas for Lord Milton and his guests. The Parson urges the mummers to ‘work for the common good’ and accept a cut in wages. Clare fondles his fiancée Patty but then goes into the house with the kitchen-maid Mary. Milton starts to drain the fens and clear the woodland. Mary is sacked, and Clare proposes to her. The local men begin to loot from the rich. The Parson is stripped naked in the woods, but freed by the arrival of Milton's men, who shoot one of the poor. Clare escapes, but visits his friends, who are sentenced to death. All but Darkie, the ringleader, are reprieved and will be transported. Clare, now married to Patty, gains fame as a poet and is brought to London, where he is lionized and meets Charles and Mary Lamb. Clare is warned not to write subversive or erotic poetry. Five years later, Patty is urging Clare to get a proper job as a labourer, since his publisher tells Clare that there is no market for his poetry. Fearing for his sanity, Milton and the Parson remove Clare forcibly to an asylum. Four years later Clare escapes and finds Mary, who barely remembers him. He imagines he sees the dead Darkie. Some while later Clare is back in the asylum with Mary Lamb and ‘Napoleon’. Milton visits him with Patty, but Clare has been rendered inarticulate.

A: Edward Bond Pf: 1975, London Pb: 1976 G: Drama in 8 scenes S: East Anglia and London, 1815–c.1845 C: 37m, 7f

Subtitled ‘Scenes of Bread and Love’, The Fool expresses Bond's affinity with Clare, a fellow poet from a working-class background. Set against contemporary political upheavals, Clare is shown being manipulated and finally silenced by the Establishment.

Reference entries

Edward Bond (b. 1934) English dramatist

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