As I will show, William Shakespeare had multiple connections to both the Virginia Company and William Strachey, and it is not at all surprising that he would have had access to Strachey's letter.As I will also show, this letter saturates The Tempest, providing the basic scenario, many themes and images, and many details of plot and language.
The first of these, A Discovery of the Barmudas, came out in October; it was written by Sylvester Jourdain, who had been aboard the "Sea-Venture" and had returned to England with Gates.
A month later A True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie in Virginia was published.
Many of these are quite striking, involving similar wording in similar or identical contexts. Strachey mentions "hatches" four times (10, 10, 13, 25); Shakespeare in Act 5 again mentions "the mariners asleep / Under the hatches" (5.98-99), and the boatswain says, "We were dead of sleep, / And (how we know not) all clapp'd under hatches" (5.230-31).
Others are less impressive when looked at in isolation, since they are of a type that might be found in other travel narratives, but their sheer number and breadth (much greater than in other narratives) is significant. Elmo's fire that corresponds in many particulars to Ariel's description of his magical boarding of the King's ship. Jourdain says that the sailors "drunke one to the other, taking their last leave one of the other" (5); in the play the boatswain says, "What, must our mouths be cold?
(1.2.232-37)Strachey describes the storm as "roaring" and "beat[ing] all light from heaven; which like an hell of darknesse turned blacke upon us . In The Tempest, Miranda describes the waters as being in a "roar," and says that "The sky it seems would pour down stinking pitch, / But that the Sea, mounting to th' welkins cheek, / Dashes the fire out." (1.2.1-5) Strachey says that "Our clamours dround in the windes, and the windes in thunder. (1.2.26-31)Jourdain tells how they "had time and leasure to save some good part of our goods and provision, which the water had not spoyled" (7-8); Gonzalo mentions how "our garments, being (as they were) drench'd in the sea, hold notwithstanding their freshness and glosses, being rather new dy'd than stain'd with salt water" (2.1.62-65).