Friday, 24 May 2019

24 May, 1595 - The French Doctor

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...
Henslowe writes: ye 234 maye 1595 ... R at the frenshe docter ... xxijs 

In modern English: 24th May, 1595 ... Received at The French Doctor ... 22 shillings

A French Physician, by Matthew Darly, 1771
Today, the Admiral's Men revived The French Doctor, a lost play that you can read more about in the entry for 19 October, 1594.

The French Doctor rarely attracts a large audience; today's crowd, though below average, is much bigger than it often gets.


What's next?


There will be no blog entry tomorrow because 25th May was a Sunday in 1595 and the players did not perform. Henslowe's Diary ... as a Blog! will thus return on the 26th. See you then!


Henslowe links


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Thursday, 23 May 2019

23 May, 1595 - The Second Part of Hercules

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 23 of maye 1595 ... ne ... R at 2 p of hercolas ... iijll xs

In modern English: 23rd May, 1595 ... New ... Received at The Second Part of Hercules ... £3 and 10 shillings.

Today, the Admiral's Men introduced the second part of Hercules, having premiered the first part just over a fortnight ago. Like its predecessor, the second part is also lost, but it must have continued to retell the legends of the Greek mythological strongman. And the second part attracted an exceptionally large crowd to the Rose.

Exactly which tales were staged in the second part is uncertain. As we saw back on May 7, The First Part of Hercules probably dramatized some or all of the Twelve Labours of Hercules, perhaps using straw figures to represent some of the monsters that he defeated. Perhaps the second part simply continued that story.

The Embarkation of the Argonauts by Lorenzo
Costa (16th century). Hercules is on the prow
of the Argo.
However, as we saw, Henslowe's inventory of props also contained "one golden fleece", which suggests that the legend of Jason was staged at the Rose, and this is the only known play to which it could have belonged. In the legend of the Argonauts, Hercules is one of many mythological heroes who joins Jason on his quest for the Golden Fleece. In his catalogue of British drama, Martin Wiggins therefore speculates that Part One was about the Twelve Labours and Part Two dramatized the adventures of the Argonauts, including the capture of the Golden Fleece from its guardian dragon.

Building on this possibility, Wiggins points out that Henslowe's inventory also contained "one suit for Neptune" and "Neptune's fork and garland". Neptune is prominent in one of the myths involving Hercules, in which he visits Troy at a time when it is threatened by a sea-monster sent by Neptune. The Trojans are sacrificing a maiden named Hesione to the monster.

Hercules rescues Hesione from the sea-monster;
from an illustrated manuscript of
Raoul Lefèvre's Histories of Troy (15th century)
Hercules kills the sea-monster and rescues Hesione. The Trojans promise that he may have her hand in marriage when he returns. However, when Hercules does return, the Trojans have given away Hesione to someone else, so he sacks the city and kills its king.



The death of Hercules by Gabriel Salmon
(16th century)
Perhaps the play ended with the death of Hercules. According to legend, Hercules' wife Dejanira carried with her a centaur's blood, believing it to be a love charm that would prevent him from cheating on her. But the blood was poisonous and Hercules died.

Whichever of these stories was staged, it is clear that Hercules II must have been an action-packed adventure, and its very high box office suggests that it had successfully hit the jackpot.

FURTHER READING


The Second Part of Hercules information

  • Jenny March, Cassell Dictionary of Classical Mythology (Cassell, 1998).
  • Martin Wiggins, British Drama, 1533-1642: A Catalogue, vol. 3 (Oxford University Press, 2013), entry1001.


Henslowe links



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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

22 May, 1595 - The Second Part of Tamburlaine

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 22 of maye 1595 ... R at 2 pt of tamberlen ... xxvs

In modern English: 22nd May, 1595 ... Received at Second Part of Tamburlaine ... 25 shillings

The mausoleum of Timur (or Tamburlaine)
in Samarkand
Today, the Admiral's Men performed the sequel to Tamburlaine, in which the conqueror of Asia meets his inevitable doom; you can read more about this play in the entry for 19th December, 1594.

As is their usual habit, the company is performing the two Tamburlaine plays as a pair on subsequent days. And as is almost always the case, the second part has received a slightly larger audience.

Henslowe links



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Tuesday, 21 May 2019

21 May, 1595 - Tamburlaine

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 21 of maye 1595 ... R at j pt of tamberlen ... xxiijs 

In modern English: 21st May, 1595 ... Received at First Part of Tamburlaine ... 22 shillings.


Illustration of the historical Tamburlaine
from Richard Knolles' General History

of the Turks (1603).
Today, the players performed the first part of Tamburlaine, Christopher Marlowe's spectacular epic about the bloodthirsty conqueror of Asia. You can read more about this play in the entry for 30th August.

This is the first time the company has revived Tamburlaine since their lengthy break for Lent. It continues to disappoint though - for all its iconic status in Elizabethan England, not many people are still interested in seeing it by 1595.

Henslowe links



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Monday, 20 May 2019

20 May, 1595 - The First Part of Hercules

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 20 of maye 1595 ... R at hercolas ... iijll ixs

In modern English: 20th May, 1595 ... Received at Hercules ... £3 and 9 shillings

Today, the Admiral's Men revived The First Part of Hercules, which retold some of the legends of the Greek mythological strongman. You can read more about this play in the entry for 7 May..


Hercules fighting the Nemean Lion by
Francisco de Zurbarán (1634)
The is the first revival of The First Part of Hercules after the company premiered it a week-and-a-half ago. And the company must be thrilled, because the revival has packed the Rose playhouse for a second time; it is very rare for a play to fill the theatre twice in a row.


Henslowe links



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Sunday, 19 May 2019

19 May, 1595 - Seleo and Olympo

Here's what the Admiral's Men performed at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

Henslowe writes: ye 179 of maye 1595 ... R at  olimpo ... xxiijs 

In modern English: 19th May, 1595 ... Received at Olympo ... 23 shillings


Portrait of Two Friends by Pontormo (1524)
Today, the Admiral's Men revived Seleo and Olympo, a lost play about which we know nothing at all except that it must have been about two men.You can read more about it in the entry for 5 March.

The audiences for Seleo and Olympo continue to shrink - it does not seem that it will ever be a big hitter.

Henslowe links





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Saturday, 18 May 2019

18 May, 1595 - a hoax entry!

Here's what the Admiral's Men did not perform at the Rose playhouse on this day, 424 years ago...

"Henslowe" writes: ye 18 of Maye 1595 ... R at galfrido & Bernardo ... xxxjs 

In modern English: 18th May, 1595 ... Received at Galfrido and Bernardo ... 31 shillings


Today's post is a strange one, for Henslowe's supposed diary entry for 18 May is in fact a forgery inserted by the nineteeth-century scholar John Payne Collier. We have encountered many 'lost plays' before, but this is something quite different: the play of Galfrido and Bernardo never existed at all. How can something so outrageous have happened? Read on...

John Payne Collier, 1789-1883
Henslowe's Diary has been studied by many scholars since it was rediscovered by Edmund Malone in the 18th century. One of them was Collier, who borrowed the manuscript from Dulwich College in 1840 and kept it for years. The following description of what happened next is based on Arthur and Janet Freeman's 2004 bio-bibliography of him.

Collier spent five years creating an annotated transcript of Henslowe's Diary, eventually publishing it in 1845. He was a brilliant scholar and his work was an extremely important contribution to our understanding of the document. But Collier had a demon inside him: throughout his career he inserted fake information into the documents that he worked on. His alterations were often small and subtle, and not until 1876 did scholars comparing the Diary with earlier transcripts first notice the hoaxes that Collier had introduced.

Collier used his expert knowledge of Elizabethan handwriting to insert words into the Diary. His additions can be recognized now due to their different ink colour. Take a look at the facsimile of this page of the Diary. At the very bottom, you'll see the entry for Galfrido and Bernardo. The ink is more faded and if you look closely you can see that although the imitation of Henslowe's handwriting is impressive, it is not perfect. In his published edition of the Diary, Collier disguises his insertion by noting that it was "omitted to be noticed by Malone".

What was Collier's motivation? With most of his Henslowe hoaxes, he was trying to make more important his other scholarly endeavours. In 1844, he had published a reprint of a 1570 poem by John Drout, The Pitiful History of Two Loving Italians, Gaulfrido and Barnardo le Vayne. The false entry in the Diary makes the poem seem more significant by making it appear to have inspired a lost theatrical adaptation.  In his edition of the Diary, he proposes that the entry "relates to a play founded, doubtless, upon the recently-discovered poem by John Drout" and makes sure to mention his own publication of it, "limited to twenty-five copies".

Normal service will resume tomorrow!


FURTHER READING


Information on Collier and Galfrido and Bernardo


  • John Payne Collier, The Diary of Philip Henslowe from 1591 to 1609 (Shakespeare Society, 1845), 52.
  • Arthur Freeman and Janet Ing Freeman, John Payne Collier: Scholarship and Forgery in the Nineteenth Century (Yale University Press, 2004), 1:361-8. 


Henslowe links




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