Until a few years ago no one had succeeded in finding the Play or
Novel on which the European part of the plot of "The Tempest" was
An early German Play, "The Fair Sidea" had been brought forward on
account of some resemblances to "The Tempest." Yet it is obviously not
its source but rather an imitation or variant indirectly drawn from a
similar foundation story.
Edmund Dorer, a special student of Spanish Literature first called
attention (Jan. 31, 1885,) to the story more closely resembling "The
Tempest" than any other, as it occurs in a collection of tales by
Antonio de Eslava, called Las Noches de Invierno, or "Winter
Nights," published in Madrid in 1609.
Like other such collections of stories, such as the Italian collection
of Bandello, and the French of Belleforest, used by Shakespeare,
Eslava's collection was translated, and, in default of the original
from one of the later editions, as translated into German in 1683
(Noches de Invierno Winternachte aus dem Spanischen in die Deutsche
sprach versetzet) a summary of this story was given in English for
the first time as a satisfactory source of "The Tempest" in the "First
Folio Edition" of the Play (see pp. 85-93 and Introduction; also for
an extract and summary of "The Fair Sidea," pp. 94-95).
What may be called the American half of the plot evidently owes
suggestions to pamphlet accounts of the storm and wreck and other
experiences met with by Sir Thomas Gates, Sir George Sommers and
others during their voyage of discovery to the Bermudas in 1610 (see
pp. 92, 99, and Notes pp. 114, 125-127, etc., for extracts.)
Gonzalo's speech, too, follows pretty closely a passage in Florio's
Montaigue. (For this passage see Note on II. i. 153-160).