From 1587 he steadily established himself as a printer of serious literature—notably of North’s translation of Plutarch (1595, reprinted in 16).
There is no direct evidence of any close friendship between Field and Shakespeare.
The eight-syllable lines in an archaic mode written for the 14th-century poet John Gower in Bible for Shakespeare’s style and range of allusion is not to be underestimated.
His works show a pervasive familiarity with the passages appointed to be read in church on each Sunday throughout the year, and a large number of allusions to passages in Ecclesiasticus (Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach) indicates a personal interest in one of the deuterocanonical books.
Still, it cannot escape notice that one of the important printer-publishers in London at the time was an exact contemporary of Shakespeare at Stratford, that he can hardly have been other than a schoolmate, that he was the son of a close associate of John Shakespeare, and that he published Shakespeare’s first poems.
Clearly, a considerable number of literary contacts were available to Shakespeare, and many books were accessible.
His enormous vocabulary could only be derived from a mind of great celerity, responding to the literary as well as the spoken language.
It is not known what libraries were available to him.
The Richard Field who published Shakespeare’s two poems , in 1593–94, seems to have been (as an apprenticeship record describes him) the “son of Henry Field of Stratford-upon-Avon in the County of Warwick, tanner.” When Henry Field the tanner died in 1592, John Shakespeare the glover was one of the three appointed to value his goods and chattels.
Field’s son, bound apprentice in 1579, was probably about the same age as Shakespeare.