Booke of Plaies

Source: Simon Forman, Booke of Plaies, extract reproduced in E.K. Chambers, William Shakespeare: A Study of Facts and Problems (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1930), vol. II, pp. 338-339

Production: William Shakespeare, Cymbeline, unknown venue, London, April 1611?

Text: Remember also the storri of Cymbalin king of England, in Lucius tyme, howe Lucius Cam from Octauus Cesar for Tribut, and being denied, after sent Lucius with a greate Arme of Souldiars who landed at Milford hauen, and Affter were vanquished by Cimbalin, and Lucius taken prisoner, and all by means of 3 outlawes, of the which 2 of them were the sonns of Cimbalim, stolen from him when they were but 2 yers old by an old man whom Cymbalin banished, and he kept them as his own sonns 20 yers with him in A cave. And howe (one) of them slewe Clotan, that was the quens sonn, goinge to Milford hauen to sek the loue of Innogen the kinges daughter, whom he had banished also for louinge his daughter, and howe the Italian that cam from her loue conveied him selfe into A Cheste, and said yt was a chest of plate sent from her loue & others, to be presented to the kinge. And in the depest of the night, she being aslepe, he opened the cheste, & cam forth of yt, And vewed her in her bed, and the markes of her body, & toke awai her braslet, & after Accused her of adultery to her loue, &c. And in thend howe he came with the Romains into England & was taken prisoner, and after Reueled to Innogen, Who had turned her self into mans apparrell & fled to mete her loue at Milford hauen, & chanchsed to fall on the Caue in the wodes wher her 2 brothers were, & howe by eating a sleping Dram they thought she had bin deed, & laid her in the wodes, & the body of Cloten by her, in her loues apparrell that he left behind him, & howe she was found by Lucius, &c.

Comments: Simon Forman (1552-1611) was an Elizabethan astrologer, whose manuscripts include the ‘Booke of Plaies‘ with Forman’s impressions of four plays that he saw in London 1610-11, three of which were productions of Shakespeare. Though some have argued that the document is a forgery, it is generally accepted as authentic. The date and location of the production of Cymbeline are not given by Forman, but its position in the manuscript between two dated productions suggest April 1611.

Links: Copy at Shakespeare Documented (image plus modernised and exact transcription)

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