Henry Wriothesley, 3rd Earl of Southampton by John L Riley
Henry Wriothesley (1573-1624), 3rd Earl of Southampton (copy of an earlier painting, the 'Tower' portrait) by John L. Riley. Henry Wriothesley was one of Shakespeare's patrons. He would find him work and support some of his living needs. Henry was a popular but controversial figure. He came from a Catholic dynasty - a major sticking point in post-reformation England. Since Henry VIII broke away from the Catholic Church and formed the Church of England, being a Catholic in England had become dangerous, and Henry's father had been discovered helping the Jesuit Edmund Campion evade capture for heresy. From a young age, Henry had been raised by Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I's chief minister, to save him from the 'corrupting influence' of his father. By 19, Henry was well established as a wealthy member of the court and was well known for his enthusiasm for literature; Shakespeare capitalised on this and sought to curry favour with him by including a foreword in his work Venus and Adonis, first printed in 1593.