As John Drakakis writes in his essay on Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice elsewhere in this Encylopedia,
commentators on The Merchant of Venice have occasionally suggested that the specific stimulus to Shakespeare’s creative imagination may have been the Roderigo Lopez affair. Lopez was a Portuguese Jew who had become Elizabeth I’s personal physician in 1586 and who was arraigned, convicted, and executed for allegedly trying to poison the queen.
It was Sir Sidney Lee’s 1880 essay “The original of Shylock” that initiated this trend to link Shylock and Lopez. Lee argued that “the minuteness with which the features peculiar to Shylock’s race are expressed… places …
Forsyth, Neil. "Sundrie Horrible Conspiracies". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 May 2011
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=33191, accessed 27 October 2016.]