What is Lost of Shakespearean Plays, besides a Few Titles?

What is Lost of Shakespearean Plays, besides a Few Titles? IF a manuscript copy of Twelfth Night had not been kept by the King’s Men for more than two decades, it would have to be listed as one of the period’s ‘lost’ plays. In the absence of its full text in the 1623 Folio, the only idea we could now make of it would have come from John Manningham’s report of the performance he enjoyed at Middle Temple Hall on Candlemas Night in February 1602. That would merely tell us At our feast wee had a play called ‘Twelve night, or what you will’; much like the commedy of errores, or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni. A good practise in it to make the steward beleeve his Lady widdowe was in Love with him, by counterfayting a letter, as from his Lady, in generall termes, telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gesture in smiling, his apparraile, &c., and then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad.1 His report tells woefully little about the play. Neither of the alternative titles he gives to it tell us much about what it might have contained. Even the plot is reduced to a single feature, the tricking of Malvolio. That highlight is the merest shadow of the play that we have enjoyed for the last four centuries. The entry in Manningham’s diary raises both of the questions that this note tries to find answers to. First is the enormous distance that sits so shadily between a lost play and its imagined content. Second is the question how much the mere title of a lost play might tell us, or more likely mislead us, about what it contained. Shakespeare’s own title, Twelfth Night, is a tease that no scholar has yet had much luck explaining. The play’s wonderful content does nothing at all to explain how it got the title that Manningham cited to identify it. In the Church’s liturgy, Twelfth Night was the Feast of the Epiphany, the end of Christmas festivities. Just what that traditional ritual of closure has to do with Duke Orsino’s Illyria is pretty well inconceivable. How many other plays, for which we only have a title or two, have we lost as comprehensively as we would have lost Twelfth Night and half of Shakespeare’s other plays, if they had not finally managed to appear in the 1623 Folio? And what might we do to bridge the gap between known titles and the lost plays they refer to? In his two-volume Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration (1951), W. W. Greg names 187 titles under the category of what he calls ‘Lost Plays’. Most of those he lists are in the Stationers’ Register as paid to license publication, but no copies survive. If we add to Greg’s list all the other plays from Henslowe’s records, plus those named in later documents such as the Lord Chamberlain’s letter about certain King’s Men’s plays to be protected from publication, and several titles from Charles Moseley’s bulk entries in the Stationers’ Register, not all of which Greg includes, the total of lost plays for which we have only the titles rises quite substantially. My own necessarily rough estimate would be that, in print or manuscript, we have lost more than three-quarters of the 800 or more plays that we usually assume were written and staged professionally during the Shakespeare period. As this note shows, a similar proportion of those 800 unknown plays are ‘lost’ except for their titles. Against such a regrettable calculation we can, of course, adopt the self-comforting assumption that only those plays that were most famous and successful in their own day were likely to be turned into print, or survived in manuscript. Given the relatively poor quality of some that did get into either of these forms of record, that is an unsurprising thought. We should keep reminding ourselves, to counter attempts to find any comfort from such a high proportion of losses, that not only Shakespeare but several of his peers did produce plays of amazingly high quality. The body of splendid plays that have survived until today should never let us assume that we have the best of what was then staged. Not many of us have even read all of that 200 or so, let alone seen them in modern stagings, and we have no guarantee that modern criteria of value would leave the lost 600 very far behind the few that we esteem highly now. If there was ever a situation that justified the old cliche about being able to see only the tip of an iceberg, it must be the sheer quantity entailed in this loss of plays written through that staggeringly successful blossoming of new playmaking between about 1575 and 1642. The disappearance of 700 or more ‘lost’ plays, even those for which some titles have survived, makes it impossible to assume that their poor quality was a main factor behind the loss of so many. Unlike the Titanic, we have little idea where and of what kind was the multitude of texts that we have lost. That uncertainty obliges us to search through the smallest scraps of evidence about the ‘lost’ plays, especially where their titles or other references might tell us a little about them. Whether or not Francis Meres was just playing with names when he followed his citation of Love’s Labours Lost with the mysterious ‘Loves labours wonne’, or if he really did know of an otherwise unknown Shakespeare’s comedy by that sequel-like name we are still unsure, for all the speculations that the name has provoked. We need to identify all we can from the few icicles of evidence we have. The fact that we have lost what we might consider to be the sunken mass of an iceberg of plays is only one of the considerations here, of course. When the conditions of production were so ephemeral, the likelihood of a playbook surviving was always hazardous. And the hazards spread much further. One major factor in the process of loss is the condition and the kind of playbook that survives, in print or manuscript. Many of the existing texts, Shakespeare’s included, from recent close analysis appear to be rather poor versions of the words that were said on stage. This loss is augmented by the absence of any indication about how and with what gestures they were delivered to the early audiences. The huge number of the lost plays is only one form of our loss. We suffer from many other deprivations besides the submerged mass of the iceberg. One category of lost plays containing stories that are easy to define, and which tell us something quite tangible about them, is the sequence, or assemblage, of biblical plays that Edward Alleyn started to run at the Fortune from 1601 onwards. I suspect that he felt he needed this rush of biblical stories because he was trying to downplay his own durable fame as the voice of that great downfaller, Faustus. He revived Marlowe’s play, with his own famous role in it, on his return to the stage in 1600. In that same busy time, when he returned to the stage to launch his new playhouse in 1600, he commissioned and bought for the Admiral’s Men seven plays, all now lost and all telling stories from the Bible. None of them went into print, and no manuscripts of any of their texts have survived. They are all clearly ‘lost’ plays from that brief but productive period. Their subject-matter may affirm the popularity of a few earlier lost plays of 1596 or so, chiefly one called Nebuchadnezzar, and perhaps Julian the Apostate of the same year, post-biblical though the second subject technically was. The names of the seven lost biblical plays that appear in Henslowe’s Diary from 1601 are, first, Judas, by the innovative Haughton. An unfinished play—a single ‘earnest’ paid to Haughton was recorded in May 1600—it seems to have been revised and completed by Bird and Rowley, who were paid for it that December. This payment perhaps affirms Alleyn’s need for some overtly religious story-telling plays. Then came Pontius Pilate, by Dekker, in 1601, Jephtha, by Munday and Dekker, in the following year, and Samson, by an unknown author, possibly Chettle, in the same year Chettle’s Tobias appeared in 1602, with Joshua by Samuel Rowley, and The Four Sons of Amon, bought from the company player Robert Shaa late in that same busy year.2 There can be little doubt that these plays were all designed to give honest dramatizations of the biblical stories. No doubt they offset the massive impact that playgoers such as Richard Norwood testified to Faustus always having on them.3 We can only speculate about why Alleyn thought this subject-matter so worthwhile, at such a time. Perhaps they were designed to offset Faustus as the unique and especially antibiblical case in the company’s repertory. They would certainly have been expected to disarm some of the many criticisms hurled at playgoing as profane and irreligious. As the duopolistic pair of licensed companies of 1594 broke down and new companies got footholds in London, perhaps Alleyn felt that plays could begin to show London some honestly religious offerings. In reprising his most notorious part, Alleyn does seem to have felt his own religious fears. Playing Faustus, he seems to have taken some care to protect himself from the risk of heavenly reprisal. It was at this time, around 1600, that Samuel Rowlands wrote of him presenting his most famous characterization on stage while wearing a surplice with a cross hung round his neck.4 John Aubrey later reported, his usual high coloration of his biographies merging at least two quite distinct legends, that it was the sight of a devil on stage while he was playing Faustus that made him decide to found Dulwich College. Perhaps, too, it could be significant that neither the company nor the authors thought that even one of these biblical plays was worth putting into print. This may have been prompted by a heedful degree of tact that their theological subjects brought with them to their staging. It is equally likely, though, that the company expected nobody to bother buying copies of such stories, on the grounds that they were already not only familiar but easily available to everyone out of the Bible itself. This gives a nuance to the question I raised at the beginning, whether many from that multitude of lost plays really would have been worth preservation in print. Since all the plays telling biblical stories are truly lost, this is necessarily a moot point. Not all the ‘lost’ plays are necessarily out of reach. Quite a few can be claimed as rediscovered, most frequently as a result of mistaken or altered titling. One play that I believe has been existing for some centuries in what you might well call disguise is the play that Henslowe registered in his Diary while the Admiral’s Men were performing at the Rose under the title The Disguises. The Diary has an ample number of entries under that name, but nothing flaunting such a title ever went into print. Yet one play, with a title that never appears anywhere in Henslowe’s records, was printed as an Admiral’s play in 1600. Its title page gives it the stock declaration that it was ‘lately played by the right honourable the Lord High Admirall his servaunts’.5 Charles Howard was elevated to the earldom of Nottingham in 1596, and all the later Admiral’s plays went into print with that extra title in the ascription to him as the company’s patron. So the manuscript from which the play was printed, and its title page, must pre-date that year. Henslowe made all his references to the play he called ‘Disguises’ in 1595. So this ‘lost’ text may be, in its printed form, the play later published as Look About You. I made that identification some years ago in my book about the Admiral’s Men, Shakespeare’s Opposites (2009).6 This question we should come back to later. More than a few other similar cases may exist, although it does have to be a rather despairing search. Henslowe’s records name 206 titles for Admiral’s Men plays staged after 1594, of which only ten were in print by 1603.7 Out of a total of the 229 plays known from Henslowe and other sources by their titles, texts survive either in print or in manuscript for only thirty-eight of them, plus a few manuscript ‘plots’ in varying degrees of thoroughness. Altogether, these titles provide little more than one-sixth of the company’s whole known repertory over thirty years of playing. The known texts comprise barely one in thirty of those that were most likely staged at the Rose and the Fortune. This prompts a special interest in the question where and what were the plays we now know only by their titles, let alone what all the others with their teasing and sometimes multiple names might have been like. We have to be particularly careful over ‘lost’ plays that might have had two names, since scholars are always prone to be tempted to identify a ‘lost’ play as one already known and printed under another name. A few such likely cases are cited below. We must start out by looking at the evidence for how singular, and how exclusive, were early play titles. It is all too easy to assume that each play had to have an individual and individualizing name, or at least a name that distinguished it from all of its companions. This ought to have been absolutlye necessary to distinguish one from another, as the listings (and the varying names) in Henslowe’s Diary show. He seems to have noted distinct titles to identify each play, while, on the one hand, the company and, on the other, their administrator might have used different names for the same play. It is quite possible that some plays may not have had any name at all on their front pages. In 1611 George Buc, the Master of the Revels, had to supply his own title to the manuscript of the King’s Men’s play probably by Middleton, and now usually known as The Lady’s Tragedy that they had given him to license for performance. Buc, in his ‘allowance’ at the end of the manuscript, labelled it ‘This second Maydens tragedy (for it hath no name inscribed)’. Older generations of scholars used to echo Buc’s non-title in naming it. He clearly did not mean his allusion to the Beaumont and Fletcher tragedy of a year or so before to become its real title, so the recent change is valid. In a case like this, of course, the title has to follow the play, or to be invented for it. Most of our problems are of the opposite kind, when more than one title survives but we do not know which specific text it might belong to. It is right to ask, for instance, whether the much-used title Mahomet in Henslowe’s Diary, for a play staged by the Admiral’s in 1594, might not have been his own alternative name for the manuscript ‘plot’ of 1600 or so and the printed text of 1594 that we think of as The Battle of Alcazar. If that identification is correct, we should ask why Henslowe and the company should have used quite different names for the same play. The original story of the notorious battle that destroyed the sole Portuguese royal heir and his court was supposed to be kept a dark Spanish secret, since the Spanish used it as the pretext for their takeover of the Portuguese crown. Peele made the story into a sensational play in about 1590, when Edward Alleyn seems to have bought the manuscript. Printed in 1594, it was revived, and a ‘plat’ made for it, in about 1600. Yet the name Alcazar appears nowhere in the Diary. Its durability alone should have made it a major feature in Henslowe’s records. The name Mahomet appears frequently in the Diary, both in 1594 and when Peele’s play was being re-staged, but the name on the printed play’s title page is never there. We cannot be sure that the identity of The Battle of Alcazar with Mahomet is anything more than a plausible explanation of why the title of the printed play does not exist in the Diary. Perhaps the source for this apparently dual titling lay somewhere between Henslowe, and perhaps the company scribe who made the ‘plot’ in 1600, using the name of its hero as a form of shorthand, while the printer of 1594 used Peele’s original title. What happened to the play we usually think of as Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, printed in 1592, is another unknown amongst the multiple titles Henslowe used. A second play is also in print, perhaps a parody of the famous initial tragedy, now usually known as 1 Hieronimo, or Jeronimo, printed in 1605. Henslowe’s lists register Jeronymo, Joronimo, Joronemo, Geronymo as one of his most frequently staged plays, but also a spanes comodye donne oracioe, including a doneoracio the day before a Joronymo. Once he entered both a Joronymo and two days later the comodey of Jeronymo. Payments for additions made to the 1592 text are also in Henslowe’s records. It does look as if at the very least two plays were among those staged at the Rose through the 1590s, although it is not always possible to be sure which of the two texts in print he meant.8 Plenty of other plays, or at least a large number of those that got into print, certainly did have alternative titles. Some time well before 1599, when the surge of playbooks by the duopoly companies into print began, using dual titles for the one play seems to have become quite a regular practice. But where such alternative names were used, which of the two was the more important? Was the ‘lost’ Shakespeare play cited by Francis Meres in 1598, Love’s labours wonne, one of those that survived into the Folio compilation, but under a different name? Was it, as many think, an alternative title for The Taming of the Shrew? E. K. Chambers said that some equivalent assumption must be ‘most natural’.9 We have our own doubts now, both over plays and their titles. We now ask whether Heywood’s Four Prentices was the same play as Godfrey of Bulloigne, Part 2 of which the Admiral’s staged ten times between 19 July and 30 October 1594, twice more in April and May 1595, and again on 16 September in that year. It looks as though Part I of Godfrey may have been entered in the Stationers’ Register on 19 June 1594 (about the time that Part 2 was on stage), as ‘An enterlude entituled Godfrey of Bulloigne with the conquest of Jerusalem’. When Heywood’s play was eventually printed in 1615 its title was ‘The Four Prentises of London. With the Conquest of Jerusalem’. Was Heywood’s The Four Prentices the Godfrey interlude registered at Stationers’ Hall? Heywood’s printed text of 1615 declared that it dated back ‘some fifteene or sixteene yeares’, which would set its writing to 1598 or 1599, five or more years after Godfrey. Making the two titles into one play here might reflect the modern desire to shrink the list of truly lost plays. Conceivably, even in this case, a rewritten version of the first named play might have appeared with a fresh title. As noted elsewhere, Heywood rewrote much of Dekker’s Cupid and Psyche as his own Love’s Mistress, and something similar might have happened with Four Prentices. We should ask if, when two titles existed, which of them would have appeared on the playbills that advertised a play’s readiness to be performed? Surely, somewhere in the morass of untitled or mis-titled plays that did get into print, at least a few of the plays well known to everybody, such as one familiarly cited by the Citizen in Knight of the Burning Pestle under the name The Bold Beauchams, might survive under a different name. We need to look closely, and with more than a little healthy scepticism, at the whole question of alternative or double titles for the plays of this time. The specific problem, of needing to identify an exclusive title for every single play-text, is a version of the chronic trouble that play-text editors have always had to struggle with, having to make the commercial choice of re-issuing just the one version (title and text), if only for the clarity of modern reference. The first name of Fletcher’s The Woman’s Prize asserts its own identity, but its alternative, The Tamer Tamed explicitly invokes its prequel, The Taming of the Shrew. Which would we prefer to use today? The case of The Wise Man of Westchester is perhaps the most notable of the problems that can emerge from such a need, at least if we are to extricate ourselves from the mess of variable forms that might have been used to name it originally. It appears in Henslowe under that title as one of the most popular of all in the Admiral’s company repertory.10 Its ‘ne’ performance was listed on 2 December 1594, but no play with that name has survived, in print or in manuscript. So is it lost? A manuscript dated 1595, in Antony Munday’s hand, a play about two wise men, does survive. It is a comedy set in West Chester, but Munday’s manuscript names it John a Kent and John a Cumber. That is its only title, naming its two wise men, a pair of rival magicians. Many of us find it easy to assume that Henslowe would have used the pair of names as his own title for Munday’s play about Westchester’s two ‘Wise Men’. This is the convenient assumption if you accept the identity of the one play as having both titles. Some sceptics still refuse to accept this convenient merging view, concluding that the most popular play in Henslowe’s long lists is irretrievably lost. Our compulsion to use single titles gives us wider problems than this. Mostly, thanks to editors, we have little trouble with naming extant plays, even though many texts and titles exist in quite a variety of forms. Some, especially the history plays, simply take titles from their chief subject, Richard III or Edward I, Locrine, Selimus, or Tamburlaine. Other play titles invoke proverbial sayings, such as Much Ado about Nothing, All’s Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure, or Women Beware Women. Versions of that form of titling seem to have been used to point their own moral, such as A Warning for Fair Women (1599). The many comedies whose titles embody their own come-on have names like An Humorous Day’s Mirth (1599). A rather more select group choose to emphasize the play’s central paradox, such as The White Devil, or A Woman Killed with Kindness. Possibly Shakespeare’s two most oddly dismissive titles, As You Like It and What You Will (alias Twelfth Night), might fit into this catchy category. You have to wonder whether the alternative title to Twelfth Night appeared precisely because the name John Manningham gave it, retained when it was first printed in the Folio of 1623, has no obvious application in the play itself. For once, both of the alternative names are in the running headline of the title in the Folio. That in itself helps to make Manningham’s addition of the less meaningful version all the more remarkable. Quite a few of the plays in Greg’s list of plays published from about 1590 onwards have alternative names on their title pages. We now tend to use only the compressed forms devised by modern scholars for our and our editors’ convenience, such as Tamburlaine. The choices that have to be made, leading to that sort of simplification, though, are often tortuous. One play, dedicated to the Countess of Pembroke in 1591, the work of Abraham Fraunce, Greg calls Amyntas’ Pastoral. Yet on its title page it proudly boasts that it has this authorized name: ‘The Countesse of Pembrokes Yvychurch. Conteining the affectionate life and unfortunate death of Phillis and Amyntas: That in a Pastorall: This in a Funer-all’. The running title, which Greg took over and modernized into a compressed form for our convenience, is ‘Amyntas Pastorall. The first part of the Countesse of Pembrokes Yvychurch’. The pride that generated such inflated inscriptions quite naturally tempts us into using a more compressed form. Some early printed plays had distinctive titles, retained because of the clear reference they provided. Besides The Tamer Tamed, this category could include the Admiral’s Knack to Know an Honest Man (1596). It has no least resemblance to its predecessor, A Knack to Know a Knave, celebrated on its first title page as being performed by Strange’s with Alleyn and Will Kemp. It must have acquired its title from the good name of its predecessor. Other such allusive and almost proverbial titles include Jonson’s two Every Man plays. Here the one title echoes its predecessor, and, however misleadingly, carries the implication that it is a sequel building on the success of the first version, however distinct in form and style each was from the other. We might claim that Jonson’s pair was followed quite closely by Shakespeare’s equally popular pair of middle comedies, As You Like It and What You Will (or Twelfth Night), which were perhaps so named for a similar reason. Modern editors and scholars have simplified most play titles, cutting out the sections of description or evident advertising that accompanied their original appearance from the press. Mostly the names are unequivocal, but some do call for explanation, especially when two alternatives were available. Like none of his other plays, for instance, Lyly’s Endymion was also originally given the alternative title ‘The Man in the Moone’. Is this a translation, an explanation, or a subtitle? The same question might be asked of Dekker’s Shoemaker’s Holiday. In 1599 it was the first major play from that year’s explosion of play-publishing to be issued with an alternative name or sub-title. Its first edition identified it as ‘THE SHOMAKERS Holiday. OR The Gentle Craft’. This, especially if we take note of its overt but calculatedly paradoxical sub-title, makes an open echo of its main source, Deloney’s romantic tale. As such, it might well have been intended to advertise the specific link it sets up with the handicraft trade it celebrates. Both titles, though, delicately avert attention from what is at the play’s heart, its sharp satire on Sir John Spencer, recently Lord Mayor, well known for his scandalous mistreatment of his own daughter. Spencer violently loathed all playgoing by Londoners, and when in office tried several times to have all professional plays suppressed.11 The Admiral’s Men had every reason to stage a play deriding him, though not by means of its title page. A rather similar and equally catching device appeared in the title of Jonson’s Poetaster. This play, with its overt contempt for would-be writers, was given an explanatory subtitle, ostensibly like Dekker’s play, as ‘or The Arraignment’. Jonson’s authorial input here was marked at its republication in the 1616 Folio, where he made it personal by changing it to ‘His Arraignement’. In 1602, the response it provoked, Satiromastix, appeared with a similarly explanatory sub-title ‘The untrussing of the Humorous Poet’. A few years later Marston’s Parasitaster, or The Fawn appeared in 1606, its comparable subtitle a bald translation of the Latin of the main title. In a different mode of explanation, the first quarto of Merry Wives in the same year used alternative titles to pick out its biggest feature, anticipating Verdi by calling it ‘A Most pleasaunt and excellent conceited Comedie, of Syr John Falstaffe, and the merrie Wives of Windsor’. If we can judge rightly from the listings of the play names in Greg’s Bibliography, where they are all set out in chronological order, it appears to have been from 1602 onwards that alternative titles truly became popular, a feature flaunted on title pages. Not long after the 1602 quarto of Merry Wives, Middleton’s Blurt Master Constable was printed with the subtitle The Spaniards Night-walke. Similarly, A Larum for London appeared in the same year with the explanatory and this time quite blunt and explicit sub-title, The Siedge of Antwerpe. The play’s notorious story was taken from the sacking of Antwerp by the Spaniards in 1576, as a historical precedent for the expected Spanish sea-borne assault on London. The pairing of its title seems to reflect a sense of the need to give the play’s mode and subject in full to any potential buyer leafing through loose quartos in a bookshop. Translation of the Latin titles for plays was, similarly, the least that the booksellers could offer. For the same reason paradoxical titles or proverbial phrases provided their own sharp hook, although even the catchier titles led a small number of such plays to have double names. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the double-name question arises with the first of the Honest Whore plays, of 1604. Its first edition appeared in two versions. One had the full name and a subtitle on its title page. It specified ‘THE Honest Whore, With, The Humours of the Patient Man, and the Longing Wife’. The other version was more baldly and plainly entitled ‘THE CONVERTED COURTESAN’. We might ask just who, author, company book-holder, publisher, or printer, could have invented this pair of alternative names. In its printed form this second version seems to be a completely re-set text, containing Dekker’s own corrections of the first printed copy. Both seem to have been printed by the same press. Why it should have appeared in these two versions with different titling is, hopelessly, a matter for guesswork.12 Later editions all copied the first version, without Dekker’s corrections, as have subsequent scholars. Nobody has chosen to use the second version’s alternative and less deliberately paradoxical title, The Converted Courtesan. Another form of alternative titling for extant plays appeared a year later, in 1605, with Sam Rowley and the Prince’s Men’s When You See Me You Know Me. While the main title seems to pick out the play’s chief theatrical device, disguise, a staging ploy the company worked into much of its repertory, its alternative title more simply picks out the play’s main historical feature, Henry VIII. Its full title is When you see me You know me Or the famous Chronicle Historie of king Henry the eight, with the birth and vertuous life of Edward Prince of Wales. A similar tactic was employed for the printing of Heywood’s 1 If You Know not Me you Know Nobody, published in the same year. It was subtitled ‘The Troubles of Queene ELIZABETH’. Marston played a similar game in 1606 with the play he called ‘THE WONDER of Women, Or The Tragedie of Sophonisba’. As we know from the recent editions, modern editors have tried the same old game with Henry VIII, or All is True. Even now some of the earlier plays are still referred to with alternative titles. In some special cases this has been done chiefly in order to identify them as being different versions of the same play. The earlier form of 2 Henry VI from 1594, for instance, is usually known as The Contention, since it was originally issued under a longer version of that name “The First part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster”. For similar reasons its sequel, 3 Henry VI, is known in its earlier form as The True Tragedy. These titles reflect as much as anything the continuing disputes over what the origins of each play might have been. For the most part they implicitly or explicitly challenge the Folio’s emphatic (re-)ordering of the first Henriad as a planned sequence climaxing with Richard III. The Folio’s naming and numbering of these four plays has created some intolerably misleading issues about the identity of each one and its possible place in a designed sequence. This is a problem not helped at all by the unavoidable evidence that individual plays in the sequence were originally written to be staged by different companies. These include both the short-lived Strange’s and Pembroke’s Men, before their plays were gathered into the Chamberlain’s Men’s repertory in 1594. For similar reasons, though with fewer confusions in consequence, these days the two versions of the Shrew play are in similar ways usually distinguished by being called The Shrew and A Shrew. Such modern retitlings are tacit acts of scholarly criticism, as much as they are attempts to clarify the precise identity of the renamed texts. The two names simply abbreviate the two title pages. They do have the advantage, if it should ever be ever needed, of emphasizing the associations and dissociations that stand between the two texts. Besides the wholly lost plays, of course, we ought not to forget the regrettably large number for which the only printed text is notably defective. Good copies of a disturbingly large number of notable and much-read plays like Pericles are missing, and could well be added to our compilation of titles that lack plays to go with them. Some sections of Chapman’s oeuvre provide a case in point. From Henslowe’s records, we know he wrote The Blind Beggar of Alexandria and An Humorous Day’s Mirth, which proved in performance to be the best-sellers for their years, 1596 and 1597. Both subsequently appeared in print, in distressingly inadequate forms. Through the next years Henslowe recorded payments made to Chapman for The Will of a Woman, later noted with a variant title, The Fountain of New Fashions. He also recorded a tragedy and another play started by Jonson, all of which are lost. Then came All Fools, of 1599. This characteristic comedy of Chapman’s seems to be another case of a changing title: The World Runs a Wheels was later recorded in the Diary as ‘The World runs a Wheels & now All Fools but the Fool’. In this note Henslowe evidently found it desirable to register it as a deliberate alteration of the title of Chapman’s play. A version got into print in 1605 as All Fools, with a Prologue, and perhaps other alterations that clearly seem to make it a play designed for the boys at Blackfriars. So we must ask when is a play lost, and when is it that have we lost just one good or at least a better version of the printed text? All printed books, of course, stand at some distance from the ‘allowed book’ that the players chose to use for their performances. The most truly lost plays are those recorded as succeeding well on stage, but whose texts are self-evidently defective. If anything, the opposite of a ‘lost’ play must be one which survives not in a mangled form but as a printed text in more than the one version. In the case of Chapman’s All Fools, we have a play which we know ran on stage in two versions, but only one of them has survived. Quite a few plays existing in only one printed form must have had widely variant versions at different times and on different stages.13 Let me conclude with another look at the plays once thought lost, but which might have survived under different titles. The two most notorious examples both appear in the Admiral’s Men’s repertory. The Battle of Alcazar has the unique blessing of being available in two forms, its ‘plot’ and the rather poor-quality quarto of 1594. As we have seen, despite the one name appearing on both the quarto and the ‘plot’, it might well be the play that in 1594 Henslowe labelled Muly Molocco. Its editor, Charlie Edelman, is for one confident that this was the lost play printed as The Battle of Alcazar, though the Knutson/McInnis web page about lost plays makes some good points about the anomalies lying inside the arguments either for or against. The other version of a play supposedly lost is Henslowe’s Disguises, which I have suggested might have been printed under the name Look About You. Lacking an author’s name, it has been largely ignored by critics.14 But, for all the honest scepticism expressed on the ‘lost play’ web page, it is well worth further scrutiny, especially if it indeed is the play that Henslowe thought of and recorded as his Disguises. We know nothing otherwise about Look About You’s early life on stage at the Rose, so without more evidence the play called ‘Desgysses’ has to remain as unidentifiable as all the other ‘lost’ plays named in the Diary. Henslowe recorded it as ‘ne’ on 2 October 1595, repeated (spelled ‘desgyses’) eight days later. It was played again on 16, 27, and 30 October, and finally on 10 November. Six performances puts it some way below the average for a successful play in these records, with distinctly fewer performances than some that are better known. A good question, therefore, is, if it was so much less successful than, say, Chapman’s other wonderful play about disguise, The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, which enjoyed twenty-two performances between February 1596 and April 1597, and was revived in 1601, getting into print in 1598, why should Desgysses have been given to the press under the title Look About You in 1600? The unnamed author is hardly likely to have pushed it himself or sold it to the press, since no name appears on its title page. It was another text owned by the company that they chose to sell to the printer, well over a year or more after its only stagings. Being so poorly rated, with so few performances through the three years that the records of daily performances at the Rose by the Admiral’s Men lasted, could it have been the same as the lost play that Henslowe named by means of the central feature in its story? Did it acquire its new name just for the press? This is where speculation has to play a regrettably large part. Disguise as a subject and a feature of plays, especially the post-1594 plays of the Admiral’s Men, is a matter for further consideration here, at least if we wish to believe that Look About You and Disguises are indeed the same play under different names. This has large implications for theatre history, especially if we wish to trace distinctive patterns in the repertory of specific companies. In my Opposites book, I suggested that late 1594 or early 1595 was the first time that the Admiral’s company began to exploit its radical new function as one of the only two companies authorized to perform daily in London. For the first time ever, they had a durable playhouse, with audiences that came practically every day, often the same customers wanting similar but different things. That was why, perhaps uniquely, they staged such a huge variety of plays, as Henslowe’s unique Diary so meticulously tells us. Each afternoon they had to produce a different show. Throughout the period of the Diary, no play ever had a sequential run (admittedly, in reality the daily records only last for three years). In the 1590s this must have seemed invaluable good fortune, however much it strained the company with its need to produce new material all the time, instead of roaming the country as they had been trained to do, taking with them no more than two or three plays, repeated in every town or great house they stopped at. In London disguise was a major trick that helped them as actors to exploit this unique new form of their fortunes. It became a regular feature of their plays when they were at the height of their control in the duopoly. I did once think of calling the Opposites book The Pregnant Enemy, which is what Viola calls the wickedness of disguise in Twelfth Night. Disguise, it seems, was the stage device the Admiral’s Men invented as a distinctive way to exploit the fact that a large number of their customers would know exactly who was playing which character, Tricks with disguises became a metatheatrical game on not two but three recognizable levels for frequent playgoers. The richness of such games, I argued, is exemplified not only in Blind Beggar, where Alleyn could be seen parodying some of his own best-known roles as Tamburlaine and Barabbas, but in Look About You, that otherwise unknown and un-authored play with a plot entirely based on a multitude of disguises, sixteen in all, through the play. As a brilliantly high-speed farce, its storyline works quite comprehensibly so long as you can recognize each player as he comes on, and who, or how many other characters, he is then pretending to be. Like most good farces, Look About You is far better on stage than read through laboriously page by page. Peter Hyland’s book (noted above in footnote 14) covers almost all the plays throughout the period that used disguise. It very handsomely surveys the device as a widely popular trick. Some aspects of his survey of this stage trick, I suspect, could do with a little more incisiveness, and he does somewhat misrepresent my own claims for the basic concept of the metatheatrical games that the players began to use at the Rose after 1594. But on the basis of all the many plays with disguises in them that he studies in the book, he does make the point that Look About You has more disguises in it than any other play, either before and after. I would count that as at least some form of backing for relating it to the six entries that appear between 2 October and 10 November 1595 in the Diary as the play Henslowe called ‘Desgysses’. If Disguises really was Look About You, the alternative title given to it for its printed form, it does bear a good resemblance to Heywood’s later play about Henry VIII, When You See Me You Know Me, which openly hints that it is another disguise play. If you can accept that identification of the two names applying to the one play, of course, Disguises does not, therefore, belong in the realms of the ‘lost’ plays. Belief in that might give us, if nothing else, another text to study and a clearer vision of the tricks that the two companies of 1594–1600 seem to have devised to entertain the many enthusiasts among their audiences. That may not in itself seem to be a very substantial retrieval from the blankness of the hundreds of truly lost playbooks from that fertile period. But every little act of retrieval helps, and the full picture, focused by those few gleams of light illuminating that wholly unique iceberg, the plays of Shakespeare’s time, needs every small detail we can acquire for it. Footnotes 1 The Diary of John Manningham of the Middle Temple,1602–3. Ed. Robert Parker Sorlien (Hanover, NH, 1976), 48. 2 In the Bible Amon had only one son. Later versions of the story amplified his progeny. It is quite possible that the play’s story was based on an amplified version. 3 See Charles Whitney, Early Responses to Renaissance Drama (Cambridge, 2006), 170–80. 4 Samuel Rowlands, The Knave of Clubs, 1609, D3: ‘The Gull gets on a surplis, / With a crosse upon his brest, / Like Allen playing Faustus, / In that manner he was drest.’ 5 It is cited in full by W. W. Greg, A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration, 4 vols (London, 1951), I, 173. 6 Andrew Gurr, Shakespeare’s Opposites. The Admiral’s Company 1594–1625(Cambridge University Press, 2009). This identification, first made by Fred L. Jones (‘Look About You and the Disguises’, PMLA xliv (1929), 835–41), has, however, recently been challenged. M. A. Nelson’s essay in Stephen Thomas Knight’s collection, Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism (Cambridge, 1999) argues that its opening scene echoes Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV of 1597, concluding that it must consequently post-date 1597. C. K. Ash, currently editing the play, dates it in 1597 or later, and also questions the connection with the ‘Disguises’ title. One of the key issues relates to Robin Hood, who disguises himself in the play as a citizen’s wife. His initial appearance as the noble Earl of Huntington matches his elevated status in Munday’s Huntington plays of 1598. 7 They are listed in Opposites, 97. 8 A useful study of this complex issue is Lukas Erne’s Beyond the Spanish Tragedy: A Study of the Works of Thomas Kyd (Manchester, 2001). 9 E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare, 2 vols (Oxford, 1930), II, 194 and I, 272. 10 The Diary editors consistently make it ‘Man’, assuming that Malone’s preference for ‘Men’ is wrong. 11 See David Novarr, ‘Dekker’s Gentle Craft and the Lord Mayor of London’, Modern Philology lvii (1960), 233–9, and Amy L. Smith, ‘Performing Cross-Class Clandestine Marriage in “The Shoemaker’s Holiday” ’, Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, xli (2005), 333–55. 12 Joost Daalder has an edition of these two plays forthcoming in the Digital Renaissance Editions. He reckons that the doubling-up of the print-runs was a consequence of the limitations laid down by the Stationers’ Company. 13 Tiffany Stern has much to say about the multiple versions both of the manuscripts and the performances that lie behind the printed texts and editions in Documents of Performance in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2009). 14 It has been staged in recent years, for instance in 2011 by the American Shakespeare Center of Virginia. Peter Hyland has written a detailed critique of it in Disguise on the Early Modern English Stage (Ashgate, 2011). © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Notes and Queries Oxford University Press

What is Lost of Shakespearean Plays, besides a Few Titles?

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Abstract

IF a manuscript copy of Twelfth Night had not been kept by the King’s Men for more than two decades, it would have to be listed as one of the period’s ‘lost’ plays. In the absence of its full text in the 1623 Folio, the only idea we could now make of it would have come from John Manningham’s report of the performance he enjoyed at Middle Temple Hall on Candlemas Night in February 1602. That would merely tell us At our feast wee had a play called ‘Twelve night, or what you will’; much like the commedy of errores, or Menechmi in Plautus, but most like and neere to that in Italian called Inganni. A good practise in it to make the steward beleeve his Lady widdowe was in Love with him, by counterfayting a letter, as from his Lady, in generall termes, telling him what shee liked best in him, and prescribing his gesture in smiling, his apparraile, &c., and then when he came to practise, making him beleeve they tooke him to be mad.1 His report tells woefully little about the play. Neither of the alternative titles he gives to it tell us much about what it might have contained. Even the plot is reduced to a single feature, the tricking of Malvolio. That highlight is the merest shadow of the play that we have enjoyed for the last four centuries. The entry in Manningham’s diary raises both of the questions that this note tries to find answers to. First is the enormous distance that sits so shadily between a lost play and its imagined content. Second is the question how much the mere title of a lost play might tell us, or more likely mislead us, about what it contained. Shakespeare’s own title, Twelfth Night, is a tease that no scholar has yet had much luck explaining. The play’s wonderful content does nothing at all to explain how it got the title that Manningham cited to identify it. In the Church’s liturgy, Twelfth Night was the Feast of the Epiphany, the end of Christmas festivities. Just what that traditional ritual of closure has to do with Duke Orsino’s Illyria is pretty well inconceivable. How many other plays, for which we only have a title or two, have we lost as comprehensively as we would have lost Twelfth Night and half of Shakespeare’s other plays, if they had not finally managed to appear in the 1623 Folio? And what might we do to bridge the gap between known titles and the lost plays they refer to? In his two-volume Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration (1951), W. W. Greg names 187 titles under the category of what he calls ‘Lost Plays’. Most of those he lists are in the Stationers’ Register as paid to license publication, but no copies survive. If we add to Greg’s list all the other plays from Henslowe’s records, plus those named in later documents such as the Lord Chamberlain’s letter about certain King’s Men’s plays to be protected from publication, and several titles from Charles Moseley’s bulk entries in the Stationers’ Register, not all of which Greg includes, the total of lost plays for which we have only the titles rises quite substantially. My own necessarily rough estimate would be that, in print or manuscript, we have lost more than three-quarters of the 800 or more plays that we usually assume were written and staged professionally during the Shakespeare period. As this note shows, a similar proportion of those 800 unknown plays are ‘lost’ except for their titles. Against such a regrettable calculation we can, of course, adopt the self-comforting assumption that only those plays that were most famous and successful in their own day were likely to be turned into print, or survived in manuscript. Given the relatively poor quality of some that did get into either of these forms of record, that is an unsurprising thought. We should keep reminding ourselves, to counter attempts to find any comfort from such a high proportion of losses, that not only Shakespeare but several of his peers did produce plays of amazingly high quality. The body of splendid plays that have survived until today should never let us assume that we have the best of what was then staged. Not many of us have even read all of that 200 or so, let alone seen them in modern stagings, and we have no guarantee that modern criteria of value would leave the lost 600 very far behind the few that we esteem highly now. If there was ever a situation that justified the old cliche about being able to see only the tip of an iceberg, it must be the sheer quantity entailed in this loss of plays written through that staggeringly successful blossoming of new playmaking between about 1575 and 1642. The disappearance of 700 or more ‘lost’ plays, even those for which some titles have survived, makes it impossible to assume that their poor quality was a main factor behind the loss of so many. Unlike the Titanic, we have little idea where and of what kind was the multitude of texts that we have lost. That uncertainty obliges us to search through the smallest scraps of evidence about the ‘lost’ plays, especially where their titles or other references might tell us a little about them. Whether or not Francis Meres was just playing with names when he followed his citation of Love’s Labours Lost with the mysterious ‘Loves labours wonne’, or if he really did know of an otherwise unknown Shakespeare’s comedy by that sequel-like name we are still unsure, for all the speculations that the name has provoked. We need to identify all we can from the few icicles of evidence we have. The fact that we have lost what we might consider to be the sunken mass of an iceberg of plays is only one of the considerations here, of course. When the conditions of production were so ephemeral, the likelihood of a playbook surviving was always hazardous. And the hazards spread much further. One major factor in the process of loss is the condition and the kind of playbook that survives, in print or manuscript. Many of the existing texts, Shakespeare’s included, from recent close analysis appear to be rather poor versions of the words that were said on stage. This loss is augmented by the absence of any indication about how and with what gestures they were delivered to the early audiences. The huge number of the lost plays is only one form of our loss. We suffer from many other deprivations besides the submerged mass of the iceberg. One category of lost plays containing stories that are easy to define, and which tell us something quite tangible about them, is the sequence, or assemblage, of biblical plays that Edward Alleyn started to run at the Fortune from 1601 onwards. I suspect that he felt he needed this rush of biblical stories because he was trying to downplay his own durable fame as the voice of that great downfaller, Faustus. He revived Marlowe’s play, with his own famous role in it, on his return to the stage in 1600. In that same busy time, when he returned to the stage to launch his new playhouse in 1600, he commissioned and bought for the Admiral’s Men seven plays, all now lost and all telling stories from the Bible. None of them went into print, and no manuscripts of any of their texts have survived. They are all clearly ‘lost’ plays from that brief but productive period. Their subject-matter may affirm the popularity of a few earlier lost plays of 1596 or so, chiefly one called Nebuchadnezzar, and perhaps Julian the Apostate of the same year, post-biblical though the second subject technically was. The names of the seven lost biblical plays that appear in Henslowe’s Diary from 1601 are, first, Judas, by the innovative Haughton. An unfinished play—a single ‘earnest’ paid to Haughton was recorded in May 1600—it seems to have been revised and completed by Bird and Rowley, who were paid for it that December. This payment perhaps affirms Alleyn’s need for some overtly religious story-telling plays. Then came Pontius Pilate, by Dekker, in 1601, Jephtha, by Munday and Dekker, in the following year, and Samson, by an unknown author, possibly Chettle, in the same year Chettle’s Tobias appeared in 1602, with Joshua by Samuel Rowley, and The Four Sons of Amon, bought from the company player Robert Shaa late in that same busy year.2 There can be little doubt that these plays were all designed to give honest dramatizations of the biblical stories. No doubt they offset the massive impact that playgoers such as Richard Norwood testified to Faustus always having on them.3 We can only speculate about why Alleyn thought this subject-matter so worthwhile, at such a time. Perhaps they were designed to offset Faustus as the unique and especially antibiblical case in the company’s repertory. They would certainly have been expected to disarm some of the many criticisms hurled at playgoing as profane and irreligious. As the duopolistic pair of licensed companies of 1594 broke down and new companies got footholds in London, perhaps Alleyn felt that plays could begin to show London some honestly religious offerings. In reprising his most notorious part, Alleyn does seem to have felt his own religious fears. Playing Faustus, he seems to have taken some care to protect himself from the risk of heavenly reprisal. It was at this time, around 1600, that Samuel Rowlands wrote of him presenting his most famous characterization on stage while wearing a surplice with a cross hung round his neck.4 John Aubrey later reported, his usual high coloration of his biographies merging at least two quite distinct legends, that it was the sight of a devil on stage while he was playing Faustus that made him decide to found Dulwich College. Perhaps, too, it could be significant that neither the company nor the authors thought that even one of these biblical plays was worth putting into print. This may have been prompted by a heedful degree of tact that their theological subjects brought with them to their staging. It is equally likely, though, that the company expected nobody to bother buying copies of such stories, on the grounds that they were already not only familiar but easily available to everyone out of the Bible itself. This gives a nuance to the question I raised at the beginning, whether many from that multitude of lost plays really would have been worth preservation in print. Since all the plays telling biblical stories are truly lost, this is necessarily a moot point. Not all the ‘lost’ plays are necessarily out of reach. Quite a few can be claimed as rediscovered, most frequently as a result of mistaken or altered titling. One play that I believe has been existing for some centuries in what you might well call disguise is the play that Henslowe registered in his Diary while the Admiral’s Men were performing at the Rose under the title The Disguises. The Diary has an ample number of entries under that name, but nothing flaunting such a title ever went into print. Yet one play, with a title that never appears anywhere in Henslowe’s records, was printed as an Admiral’s play in 1600. Its title page gives it the stock declaration that it was ‘lately played by the right honourable the Lord High Admirall his servaunts’.5 Charles Howard was elevated to the earldom of Nottingham in 1596, and all the later Admiral’s plays went into print with that extra title in the ascription to him as the company’s patron. So the manuscript from which the play was printed, and its title page, must pre-date that year. Henslowe made all his references to the play he called ‘Disguises’ in 1595. So this ‘lost’ text may be, in its printed form, the play later published as Look About You. I made that identification some years ago in my book about the Admiral’s Men, Shakespeare’s Opposites (2009).6 This question we should come back to later. More than a few other similar cases may exist, although it does have to be a rather despairing search. Henslowe’s records name 206 titles for Admiral’s Men plays staged after 1594, of which only ten were in print by 1603.7 Out of a total of the 229 plays known from Henslowe and other sources by their titles, texts survive either in print or in manuscript for only thirty-eight of them, plus a few manuscript ‘plots’ in varying degrees of thoroughness. Altogether, these titles provide little more than one-sixth of the company’s whole known repertory over thirty years of playing. The known texts comprise barely one in thirty of those that were most likely staged at the Rose and the Fortune. This prompts a special interest in the question where and what were the plays we now know only by their titles, let alone what all the others with their teasing and sometimes multiple names might have been like. We have to be particularly careful over ‘lost’ plays that might have had two names, since scholars are always prone to be tempted to identify a ‘lost’ play as one already known and printed under another name. A few such likely cases are cited below. We must start out by looking at the evidence for how singular, and how exclusive, were early play titles. It is all too easy to assume that each play had to have an individual and individualizing name, or at least a name that distinguished it from all of its companions. This ought to have been absolutlye necessary to distinguish one from another, as the listings (and the varying names) in Henslowe’s Diary show. He seems to have noted distinct titles to identify each play, while, on the one hand, the company and, on the other, their administrator might have used different names for the same play. It is quite possible that some plays may not have had any name at all on their front pages. In 1611 George Buc, the Master of the Revels, had to supply his own title to the manuscript of the King’s Men’s play probably by Middleton, and now usually known as The Lady’s Tragedy that they had given him to license for performance. Buc, in his ‘allowance’ at the end of the manuscript, labelled it ‘This second Maydens tragedy (for it hath no name inscribed)’. Older generations of scholars used to echo Buc’s non-title in naming it. He clearly did not mean his allusion to the Beaumont and Fletcher tragedy of a year or so before to become its real title, so the recent change is valid. In a case like this, of course, the title has to follow the play, or to be invented for it. Most of our problems are of the opposite kind, when more than one title survives but we do not know which specific text it might belong to. It is right to ask, for instance, whether the much-used title Mahomet in Henslowe’s Diary, for a play staged by the Admiral’s in 1594, might not have been his own alternative name for the manuscript ‘plot’ of 1600 or so and the printed text of 1594 that we think of as The Battle of Alcazar. If that identification is correct, we should ask why Henslowe and the company should have used quite different names for the same play. The original story of the notorious battle that destroyed the sole Portuguese royal heir and his court was supposed to be kept a dark Spanish secret, since the Spanish used it as the pretext for their takeover of the Portuguese crown. Peele made the story into a sensational play in about 1590, when Edward Alleyn seems to have bought the manuscript. Printed in 1594, it was revived, and a ‘plat’ made for it, in about 1600. Yet the name Alcazar appears nowhere in the Diary. Its durability alone should have made it a major feature in Henslowe’s records. The name Mahomet appears frequently in the Diary, both in 1594 and when Peele’s play was being re-staged, but the name on the printed play’s title page is never there. We cannot be sure that the identity of The Battle of Alcazar with Mahomet is anything more than a plausible explanation of why the title of the printed play does not exist in the Diary. Perhaps the source for this apparently dual titling lay somewhere between Henslowe, and perhaps the company scribe who made the ‘plot’ in 1600, using the name of its hero as a form of shorthand, while the printer of 1594 used Peele’s original title. What happened to the play we usually think of as Kyd’s Spanish Tragedy, printed in 1592, is another unknown amongst the multiple titles Henslowe used. A second play is also in print, perhaps a parody of the famous initial tragedy, now usually known as 1 Hieronimo, or Jeronimo, printed in 1605. Henslowe’s lists register Jeronymo, Joronimo, Joronemo, Geronymo as one of his most frequently staged plays, but also a spanes comodye donne oracioe, including a doneoracio the day before a Joronymo. Once he entered both a Joronymo and two days later the comodey of Jeronymo. Payments for additions made to the 1592 text are also in Henslowe’s records. It does look as if at the very least two plays were among those staged at the Rose through the 1590s, although it is not always possible to be sure which of the two texts in print he meant.8 Plenty of other plays, or at least a large number of those that got into print, certainly did have alternative titles. Some time well before 1599, when the surge of playbooks by the duopoly companies into print began, using dual titles for the one play seems to have become quite a regular practice. But where such alternative names were used, which of the two was the more important? Was the ‘lost’ Shakespeare play cited by Francis Meres in 1598, Love’s labours wonne, one of those that survived into the Folio compilation, but under a different name? Was it, as many think, an alternative title for The Taming of the Shrew? E. K. Chambers said that some equivalent assumption must be ‘most natural’.9 We have our own doubts now, both over plays and their titles. We now ask whether Heywood’s Four Prentices was the same play as Godfrey of Bulloigne, Part 2 of which the Admiral’s staged ten times between 19 July and 30 October 1594, twice more in April and May 1595, and again on 16 September in that year. It looks as though Part I of Godfrey may have been entered in the Stationers’ Register on 19 June 1594 (about the time that Part 2 was on stage), as ‘An enterlude entituled Godfrey of Bulloigne with the conquest of Jerusalem’. When Heywood’s play was eventually printed in 1615 its title was ‘The Four Prentises of London. With the Conquest of Jerusalem’. Was Heywood’s The Four Prentices the Godfrey interlude registered at Stationers’ Hall? Heywood’s printed text of 1615 declared that it dated back ‘some fifteene or sixteene yeares’, which would set its writing to 1598 or 1599, five or more years after Godfrey. Making the two titles into one play here might reflect the modern desire to shrink the list of truly lost plays. Conceivably, even in this case, a rewritten version of the first named play might have appeared with a fresh title. As noted elsewhere, Heywood rewrote much of Dekker’s Cupid and Psyche as his own Love’s Mistress, and something similar might have happened with Four Prentices. We should ask if, when two titles existed, which of them would have appeared on the playbills that advertised a play’s readiness to be performed? Surely, somewhere in the morass of untitled or mis-titled plays that did get into print, at least a few of the plays well known to everybody, such as one familiarly cited by the Citizen in Knight of the Burning Pestle under the name The Bold Beauchams, might survive under a different name. We need to look closely, and with more than a little healthy scepticism, at the whole question of alternative or double titles for the plays of this time. The specific problem, of needing to identify an exclusive title for every single play-text, is a version of the chronic trouble that play-text editors have always had to struggle with, having to make the commercial choice of re-issuing just the one version (title and text), if only for the clarity of modern reference. The first name of Fletcher’s The Woman’s Prize asserts its own identity, but its alternative, The Tamer Tamed explicitly invokes its prequel, The Taming of the Shrew. Which would we prefer to use today? The case of The Wise Man of Westchester is perhaps the most notable of the problems that can emerge from such a need, at least if we are to extricate ourselves from the mess of variable forms that might have been used to name it originally. It appears in Henslowe under that title as one of the most popular of all in the Admiral’s company repertory.10 Its ‘ne’ performance was listed on 2 December 1594, but no play with that name has survived, in print or in manuscript. So is it lost? A manuscript dated 1595, in Antony Munday’s hand, a play about two wise men, does survive. It is a comedy set in West Chester, but Munday’s manuscript names it John a Kent and John a Cumber. That is its only title, naming its two wise men, a pair of rival magicians. Many of us find it easy to assume that Henslowe would have used the pair of names as his own title for Munday’s play about Westchester’s two ‘Wise Men’. This is the convenient assumption if you accept the identity of the one play as having both titles. Some sceptics still refuse to accept this convenient merging view, concluding that the most popular play in Henslowe’s long lists is irretrievably lost. Our compulsion to use single titles gives us wider problems than this. Mostly, thanks to editors, we have little trouble with naming extant plays, even though many texts and titles exist in quite a variety of forms. Some, especially the history plays, simply take titles from their chief subject, Richard III or Edward I, Locrine, Selimus, or Tamburlaine. Other play titles invoke proverbial sayings, such as Much Ado about Nothing, All’s Well that Ends Well, Measure for Measure, or Women Beware Women. Versions of that form of titling seem to have been used to point their own moral, such as A Warning for Fair Women (1599). The many comedies whose titles embody their own come-on have names like An Humorous Day’s Mirth (1599). A rather more select group choose to emphasize the play’s central paradox, such as The White Devil, or A Woman Killed with Kindness. Possibly Shakespeare’s two most oddly dismissive titles, As You Like It and What You Will (alias Twelfth Night), might fit into this catchy category. You have to wonder whether the alternative title to Twelfth Night appeared precisely because the name John Manningham gave it, retained when it was first printed in the Folio of 1623, has no obvious application in the play itself. For once, both of the alternative names are in the running headline of the title in the Folio. That in itself helps to make Manningham’s addition of the less meaningful version all the more remarkable. Quite a few of the plays in Greg’s list of plays published from about 1590 onwards have alternative names on their title pages. We now tend to use only the compressed forms devised by modern scholars for our and our editors’ convenience, such as Tamburlaine. The choices that have to be made, leading to that sort of simplification, though, are often tortuous. One play, dedicated to the Countess of Pembroke in 1591, the work of Abraham Fraunce, Greg calls Amyntas’ Pastoral. Yet on its title page it proudly boasts that it has this authorized name: ‘The Countesse of Pembrokes Yvychurch. Conteining the affectionate life and unfortunate death of Phillis and Amyntas: That in a Pastorall: This in a Funer-all’. The running title, which Greg took over and modernized into a compressed form for our convenience, is ‘Amyntas Pastorall. The first part of the Countesse of Pembrokes Yvychurch’. The pride that generated such inflated inscriptions quite naturally tempts us into using a more compressed form. Some early printed plays had distinctive titles, retained because of the clear reference they provided. Besides The Tamer Tamed, this category could include the Admiral’s Knack to Know an Honest Man (1596). It has no least resemblance to its predecessor, A Knack to Know a Knave, celebrated on its first title page as being performed by Strange’s with Alleyn and Will Kemp. It must have acquired its title from the good name of its predecessor. Other such allusive and almost proverbial titles include Jonson’s two Every Man plays. Here the one title echoes its predecessor, and, however misleadingly, carries the implication that it is a sequel building on the success of the first version, however distinct in form and style each was from the other. We might claim that Jonson’s pair was followed quite closely by Shakespeare’s equally popular pair of middle comedies, As You Like It and What You Will (or Twelfth Night), which were perhaps so named for a similar reason. Modern editors and scholars have simplified most play titles, cutting out the sections of description or evident advertising that accompanied their original appearance from the press. Mostly the names are unequivocal, but some do call for explanation, especially when two alternatives were available. Like none of his other plays, for instance, Lyly’s Endymion was also originally given the alternative title ‘The Man in the Moone’. Is this a translation, an explanation, or a subtitle? The same question might be asked of Dekker’s Shoemaker’s Holiday. In 1599 it was the first major play from that year’s explosion of play-publishing to be issued with an alternative name or sub-title. Its first edition identified it as ‘THE SHOMAKERS Holiday. OR The Gentle Craft’. This, especially if we take note of its overt but calculatedly paradoxical sub-title, makes an open echo of its main source, Deloney’s romantic tale. As such, it might well have been intended to advertise the specific link it sets up with the handicraft trade it celebrates. Both titles, though, delicately avert attention from what is at the play’s heart, its sharp satire on Sir John Spencer, recently Lord Mayor, well known for his scandalous mistreatment of his own daughter. Spencer violently loathed all playgoing by Londoners, and when in office tried several times to have all professional plays suppressed.11 The Admiral’s Men had every reason to stage a play deriding him, though not by means of its title page. A rather similar and equally catching device appeared in the title of Jonson’s Poetaster. This play, with its overt contempt for would-be writers, was given an explanatory subtitle, ostensibly like Dekker’s play, as ‘or The Arraignment’. Jonson’s authorial input here was marked at its republication in the 1616 Folio, where he made it personal by changing it to ‘His Arraignement’. In 1602, the response it provoked, Satiromastix, appeared with a similarly explanatory sub-title ‘The untrussing of the Humorous Poet’. A few years later Marston’s Parasitaster, or The Fawn appeared in 1606, its comparable subtitle a bald translation of the Latin of the main title. In a different mode of explanation, the first quarto of Merry Wives in the same year used alternative titles to pick out its biggest feature, anticipating Verdi by calling it ‘A Most pleasaunt and excellent conceited Comedie, of Syr John Falstaffe, and the merrie Wives of Windsor’. If we can judge rightly from the listings of the play names in Greg’s Bibliography, where they are all set out in chronological order, it appears to have been from 1602 onwards that alternative titles truly became popular, a feature flaunted on title pages. Not long after the 1602 quarto of Merry Wives, Middleton’s Blurt Master Constable was printed with the subtitle The Spaniards Night-walke. Similarly, A Larum for London appeared in the same year with the explanatory and this time quite blunt and explicit sub-title, The Siedge of Antwerpe. The play’s notorious story was taken from the sacking of Antwerp by the Spaniards in 1576, as a historical precedent for the expected Spanish sea-borne assault on London. The pairing of its title seems to reflect a sense of the need to give the play’s mode and subject in full to any potential buyer leafing through loose quartos in a bookshop. Translation of the Latin titles for plays was, similarly, the least that the booksellers could offer. For the same reason paradoxical titles or proverbial phrases provided their own sharp hook, although even the catchier titles led a small number of such plays to have double names. Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the double-name question arises with the first of the Honest Whore plays, of 1604. Its first edition appeared in two versions. One had the full name and a subtitle on its title page. It specified ‘THE Honest Whore, With, The Humours of the Patient Man, and the Longing Wife’. The other version was more baldly and plainly entitled ‘THE CONVERTED COURTESAN’. We might ask just who, author, company book-holder, publisher, or printer, could have invented this pair of alternative names. In its printed form this second version seems to be a completely re-set text, containing Dekker’s own corrections of the first printed copy. Both seem to have been printed by the same press. Why it should have appeared in these two versions with different titling is, hopelessly, a matter for guesswork.12 Later editions all copied the first version, without Dekker’s corrections, as have subsequent scholars. Nobody has chosen to use the second version’s alternative and less deliberately paradoxical title, The Converted Courtesan. Another form of alternative titling for extant plays appeared a year later, in 1605, with Sam Rowley and the Prince’s Men’s When You See Me You Know Me. While the main title seems to pick out the play’s chief theatrical device, disguise, a staging ploy the company worked into much of its repertory, its alternative title more simply picks out the play’s main historical feature, Henry VIII. Its full title is When you see me You know me Or the famous Chronicle Historie of king Henry the eight, with the birth and vertuous life of Edward Prince of Wales. A similar tactic was employed for the printing of Heywood’s 1 If You Know not Me you Know Nobody, published in the same year. It was subtitled ‘The Troubles of Queene ELIZABETH’. Marston played a similar game in 1606 with the play he called ‘THE WONDER of Women, Or The Tragedie of Sophonisba’. As we know from the recent editions, modern editors have tried the same old game with Henry VIII, or All is True. Even now some of the earlier plays are still referred to with alternative titles. In some special cases this has been done chiefly in order to identify them as being different versions of the same play. The earlier form of 2 Henry VI from 1594, for instance, is usually known as The Contention, since it was originally issued under a longer version of that name “The First part of the Contention betwixt the two famous Houses of Yorke and Lancaster”. For similar reasons its sequel, 3 Henry VI, is known in its earlier form as The True Tragedy. These titles reflect as much as anything the continuing disputes over what the origins of each play might have been. For the most part they implicitly or explicitly challenge the Folio’s emphatic (re-)ordering of the first Henriad as a planned sequence climaxing with Richard III. The Folio’s naming and numbering of these four plays has created some intolerably misleading issues about the identity of each one and its possible place in a designed sequence. This is a problem not helped at all by the unavoidable evidence that individual plays in the sequence were originally written to be staged by different companies. These include both the short-lived Strange’s and Pembroke’s Men, before their plays were gathered into the Chamberlain’s Men’s repertory in 1594. For similar reasons, though with fewer confusions in consequence, these days the two versions of the Shrew play are in similar ways usually distinguished by being called The Shrew and A Shrew. Such modern retitlings are tacit acts of scholarly criticism, as much as they are attempts to clarify the precise identity of the renamed texts. The two names simply abbreviate the two title pages. They do have the advantage, if it should ever be ever needed, of emphasizing the associations and dissociations that stand between the two texts. Besides the wholly lost plays, of course, we ought not to forget the regrettably large number for which the only printed text is notably defective. Good copies of a disturbingly large number of notable and much-read plays like Pericles are missing, and could well be added to our compilation of titles that lack plays to go with them. Some sections of Chapman’s oeuvre provide a case in point. From Henslowe’s records, we know he wrote The Blind Beggar of Alexandria and An Humorous Day’s Mirth, which proved in performance to be the best-sellers for their years, 1596 and 1597. Both subsequently appeared in print, in distressingly inadequate forms. Through the next years Henslowe recorded payments made to Chapman for The Will of a Woman, later noted with a variant title, The Fountain of New Fashions. He also recorded a tragedy and another play started by Jonson, all of which are lost. Then came All Fools, of 1599. This characteristic comedy of Chapman’s seems to be another case of a changing title: The World Runs a Wheels was later recorded in the Diary as ‘The World runs a Wheels & now All Fools but the Fool’. In this note Henslowe evidently found it desirable to register it as a deliberate alteration of the title of Chapman’s play. A version got into print in 1605 as All Fools, with a Prologue, and perhaps other alterations that clearly seem to make it a play designed for the boys at Blackfriars. So we must ask when is a play lost, and when is it that have we lost just one good or at least a better version of the printed text? All printed books, of course, stand at some distance from the ‘allowed book’ that the players chose to use for their performances. The most truly lost plays are those recorded as succeeding well on stage, but whose texts are self-evidently defective. If anything, the opposite of a ‘lost’ play must be one which survives not in a mangled form but as a printed text in more than the one version. In the case of Chapman’s All Fools, we have a play which we know ran on stage in two versions, but only one of them has survived. Quite a few plays existing in only one printed form must have had widely variant versions at different times and on different stages.13 Let me conclude with another look at the plays once thought lost, but which might have survived under different titles. The two most notorious examples both appear in the Admiral’s Men’s repertory. The Battle of Alcazar has the unique blessing of being available in two forms, its ‘plot’ and the rather poor-quality quarto of 1594. As we have seen, despite the one name appearing on both the quarto and the ‘plot’, it might well be the play that in 1594 Henslowe labelled Muly Molocco. Its editor, Charlie Edelman, is for one confident that this was the lost play printed as The Battle of Alcazar, though the Knutson/McInnis web page about lost plays makes some good points about the anomalies lying inside the arguments either for or against. The other version of a play supposedly lost is Henslowe’s Disguises, which I have suggested might have been printed under the name Look About You. Lacking an author’s name, it has been largely ignored by critics.14 But, for all the honest scepticism expressed on the ‘lost play’ web page, it is well worth further scrutiny, especially if it indeed is the play that Henslowe thought of and recorded as his Disguises. We know nothing otherwise about Look About You’s early life on stage at the Rose, so without more evidence the play called ‘Desgysses’ has to remain as unidentifiable as all the other ‘lost’ plays named in the Diary. Henslowe recorded it as ‘ne’ on 2 October 1595, repeated (spelled ‘desgyses’) eight days later. It was played again on 16, 27, and 30 October, and finally on 10 November. Six performances puts it some way below the average for a successful play in these records, with distinctly fewer performances than some that are better known. A good question, therefore, is, if it was so much less successful than, say, Chapman’s other wonderful play about disguise, The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, which enjoyed twenty-two performances between February 1596 and April 1597, and was revived in 1601, getting into print in 1598, why should Desgysses have been given to the press under the title Look About You in 1600? The unnamed author is hardly likely to have pushed it himself or sold it to the press, since no name appears on its title page. It was another text owned by the company that they chose to sell to the printer, well over a year or more after its only stagings. Being so poorly rated, with so few performances through the three years that the records of daily performances at the Rose by the Admiral’s Men lasted, could it have been the same as the lost play that Henslowe named by means of the central feature in its story? Did it acquire its new name just for the press? This is where speculation has to play a regrettably large part. Disguise as a subject and a feature of plays, especially the post-1594 plays of the Admiral’s Men, is a matter for further consideration here, at least if we wish to believe that Look About You and Disguises are indeed the same play under different names. This has large implications for theatre history, especially if we wish to trace distinctive patterns in the repertory of specific companies. In my Opposites book, I suggested that late 1594 or early 1595 was the first time that the Admiral’s company began to exploit its radical new function as one of the only two companies authorized to perform daily in London. For the first time ever, they had a durable playhouse, with audiences that came practically every day, often the same customers wanting similar but different things. That was why, perhaps uniquely, they staged such a huge variety of plays, as Henslowe’s unique Diary so meticulously tells us. Each afternoon they had to produce a different show. Throughout the period of the Diary, no play ever had a sequential run (admittedly, in reality the daily records only last for three years). In the 1590s this must have seemed invaluable good fortune, however much it strained the company with its need to produce new material all the time, instead of roaming the country as they had been trained to do, taking with them no more than two or three plays, repeated in every town or great house they stopped at. In London disguise was a major trick that helped them as actors to exploit this unique new form of their fortunes. It became a regular feature of their plays when they were at the height of their control in the duopoly. I did once think of calling the Opposites book The Pregnant Enemy, which is what Viola calls the wickedness of disguise in Twelfth Night. Disguise, it seems, was the stage device the Admiral’s Men invented as a distinctive way to exploit the fact that a large number of their customers would know exactly who was playing which character, Tricks with disguises became a metatheatrical game on not two but three recognizable levels for frequent playgoers. The richness of such games, I argued, is exemplified not only in Blind Beggar, where Alleyn could be seen parodying some of his own best-known roles as Tamburlaine and Barabbas, but in Look About You, that otherwise unknown and un-authored play with a plot entirely based on a multitude of disguises, sixteen in all, through the play. As a brilliantly high-speed farce, its storyline works quite comprehensibly so long as you can recognize each player as he comes on, and who, or how many other characters, he is then pretending to be. Like most good farces, Look About You is far better on stage than read through laboriously page by page. Peter Hyland’s book (noted above in footnote 14) covers almost all the plays throughout the period that used disguise. It very handsomely surveys the device as a widely popular trick. Some aspects of his survey of this stage trick, I suspect, could do with a little more incisiveness, and he does somewhat misrepresent my own claims for the basic concept of the metatheatrical games that the players began to use at the Rose after 1594. But on the basis of all the many plays with disguises in them that he studies in the book, he does make the point that Look About You has more disguises in it than any other play, either before and after. I would count that as at least some form of backing for relating it to the six entries that appear between 2 October and 10 November 1595 in the Diary as the play Henslowe called ‘Desgysses’. If Disguises really was Look About You, the alternative title given to it for its printed form, it does bear a good resemblance to Heywood’s later play about Henry VIII, When You See Me You Know Me, which openly hints that it is another disguise play. If you can accept that identification of the two names applying to the one play, of course, Disguises does not, therefore, belong in the realms of the ‘lost’ plays. Belief in that might give us, if nothing else, another text to study and a clearer vision of the tricks that the two companies of 1594–1600 seem to have devised to entertain the many enthusiasts among their audiences. That may not in itself seem to be a very substantial retrieval from the blankness of the hundreds of truly lost playbooks from that fertile period. But every little act of retrieval helps, and the full picture, focused by those few gleams of light illuminating that wholly unique iceberg, the plays of Shakespeare’s time, needs every small detail we can acquire for it. Footnotes 1 The Diary of John Manningham of the Middle Temple,1602–3. Ed. Robert Parker Sorlien (Hanover, NH, 1976), 48. 2 In the Bible Amon had only one son. Later versions of the story amplified his progeny. It is quite possible that the play’s story was based on an amplified version. 3 See Charles Whitney, Early Responses to Renaissance Drama (Cambridge, 2006), 170–80. 4 Samuel Rowlands, The Knave of Clubs, 1609, D3: ‘The Gull gets on a surplis, / With a crosse upon his brest, / Like Allen playing Faustus, / In that manner he was drest.’ 5 It is cited in full by W. W. Greg, A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration, 4 vols (London, 1951), I, 173. 6 Andrew Gurr, Shakespeare’s Opposites. The Admiral’s Company 1594–1625(Cambridge University Press, 2009). This identification, first made by Fred L. Jones (‘Look About You and the Disguises’, PMLA xliv (1929), 835–41), has, however, recently been challenged. M. A. Nelson’s essay in Stephen Thomas Knight’s collection, Robin Hood: An Anthology of Scholarship and Criticism (Cambridge, 1999) argues that its opening scene echoes Shakespeare’s 1 Henry IV of 1597, concluding that it must consequently post-date 1597. C. K. Ash, currently editing the play, dates it in 1597 or later, and also questions the connection with the ‘Disguises’ title. One of the key issues relates to Robin Hood, who disguises himself in the play as a citizen’s wife. His initial appearance as the noble Earl of Huntington matches his elevated status in Munday’s Huntington plays of 1598. 7 They are listed in Opposites, 97. 8 A useful study of this complex issue is Lukas Erne’s Beyond the Spanish Tragedy: A Study of the Works of Thomas Kyd (Manchester, 2001). 9 E. K. Chambers, William Shakespeare, 2 vols (Oxford, 1930), II, 194 and I, 272. 10 The Diary editors consistently make it ‘Man’, assuming that Malone’s preference for ‘Men’ is wrong. 11 See David Novarr, ‘Dekker’s Gentle Craft and the Lord Mayor of London’, Modern Philology lvii (1960), 233–9, and Amy L. Smith, ‘Performing Cross-Class Clandestine Marriage in “The Shoemaker’s Holiday” ’, Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900, xli (2005), 333–55. 12 Joost Daalder has an edition of these two plays forthcoming in the Digital Renaissance Editions. He reckons that the doubling-up of the print-runs was a consequence of the limitations laid down by the Stationers’ Company. 13 Tiffany Stern has much to say about the multiple versions both of the manuscripts and the performances that lie behind the printed texts and editions in Documents of Performance in Early Modern England (Cambridge, 2009). 14 It has been staged in recent years, for instance in 2011 by the American Shakespeare Center of Virginia. Peter Hyland has written a detailed critique of it in Disguise on the Early Modern English Stage (Ashgate, 2011). © The Author(s) (2018). Published by Oxford University Press. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Notes and QueriesOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

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