Friday, 13 January 2017

13 January, 1593 - A Knack to Know a Knave

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

Henslowe writes: R at the cnacke the 14 of Jenewary 1593 ... xxiiijs

In modern English: Received at The Knack, 13th January, 1593 ... 24 shillings

The knaves from an Italian
pack of cards, c.1490
Today, Lord Strange's Men revived A Knack to Know a Knave, their comical morality play; you can read more about it in the entry for 10th June.

The company last performed The Knack a week and a half ago, when they had taken the unusual step of playing it twice in one week. It had not proved very popular then, and its below-average box office now continues, sinking even lower than last time. The Knack has so far not impressed the London crowds.

What's next?

There will be no blog entry tomorrow, because 14th January was a Sunday in 1593 and the players did not perform. Henslowe's Diary ... as a Blog! will thus return on 15th January.

Henslowe links


Did I make a mistake? Do you have a question? Have you anything to add? Please post a comment below!


  1. It seems odd to comment, but I just want to say how much I'm enjoying reading Henslowe's "diary" this way. I especially find your commentary on relative success of the different plays helpful!

    1. The whole thing is quite odd really, but thanks for reading!

  2. Do you know what the weather was like on these dates? Since they are having a run of low takings I wonder if people were just not going out?

    1. I don't think there's any weather data for specific days. But climatology says that Elizabethan England was right in the middle of the 'Little Ice Age', which lasted from around the 1300s to the 1800s. So, I'd assume that a 1590s January would be colder than a modern January. Presumably there was more snow and ice. So, given that the Rose had no roof, it's hard not to guess that the weather was a major factor in audience size! Maybe I'll write something about this in a future post...

  3. That's a great question, Ann. I wonder if the Royal Observatory kept some sort of record (though it would be way too late for the Henslowe period). Shipping records of some sort, maybe, would give at least occasional days, but how to find/access them?

  4. I don't know, but it must be possible to find shipping records. I have sometimes found references to weather on particular days in diaries. There must be a lot of information scattered around.