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About Wessex -- From The Original Script by Marc Norman 
(Thanks to Sandra for this information!)


Note: This information is taken from the "Shakespeare in Love" script written solely by Marc Norman. While apparently serving as the basis for the current movie script, we have no way of knowing what changes have been made by Tom Stoppard. We do know that the name of Gwyneth's character has been changed from Belinda to Viola but since this synopsis is from the Norman script, the name Belinda will be used.

Lord Wessex is first seen attending a play at which his intended bride, Belinda De Lesseps is sitting among the Queen's ladies. The play has been written by Will (Shakespeare) and Belinda is sitting and mouthing the words as the actors speak them, watched closely by Wessex. At this point, Norman writes "Wessex is in his forties, dark, cruel, self-important."

Annoyed by Belinda ignoring him during the play, Wessex meets Will on the street. Will is absent-mindedly walking with a friend and in passing Wessex, pushes him into the street where he soils his stockings. Angered, Wessex draws his sword and fights with Will, besting him, but is stopped from harming Will by the night watchman. During the fight, Wessex says: "How I hate actors. Dressed in our cast-offs, pretending to be us, on-stage and worse, off. But you only know slap-sword -- never actually skewered a man, have you . . . ?"

Following this fight, Will's friend tells him who he has just angered: "Lord Wessex -- a climber. Deadly swordsman -- he found his first wife in bed with a lover, and one sword did the work of two."

Because of time constraints, Will is actually writing and staging his play at the same time. Belinda, disguised as a man, tries out for a part and ultimately is cast as Romeo. Wessex, thinking she is having an affair, enlists her brother to spy on her. In due course, Will and Belinda fall in love and do begin an affair, and her brother, Edgar, discovers them together in Will's rooms.

Apparently this information is transmitted to Wessex and through an unexplained plot twist, Belinda agrees to marry Wessex if Will's play is allowed to be performed and if she is allowed to appear in the part of Romeo on opening day only. There is a gathering at Whitehall during which there is dancing, attended by Wessex, Belinda and Will. Here Wessex tells Will "Have your play -- in a day, it will be forgotten. While I get her for life . . ."

In the end, the play is performed with Will acting the role of Juliet and Belinda in the role of Romeo. At the end of the play, Will refuses to let Belinda keep her word and marry Wessex, who has arrived backstage to claim her. Another sword fight occurs, this one of longer duration and more deadly in intent. Finally, Will overpowers Wessex and has him on his back, sword point at his throat. At that moment, the Queen appears and orders Belinda to honor her vow to Wessex.

As this story is being recalled many years later and hence told in flashbacks, the narrator is asked if Will ever sees Belinda again. "Once more," is the answer -- and we see Wessex and Belinda attending a performance of "Romeo and Juliet" at Whitehall.

We are told, by the narrator, that Belinda gave birth to a baby sired by Will and that Wessex died in a duel two years after the marriage. Will went on to write many plays -- "some love stories, a few histories, but mostly tragedies . . ."

(quotes are taken from the script by Marc Norman, second draft, June, 1992)

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