Book 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. 340-341

Production: William Shakespeare, The Winter’s Tale, Globe theatre, London, 15 May 1611

Text: In the Winters Talle at the glob 1611 the 15 of maye ☿ [Wednesday]. Obserue ther howe Lyontes the kinge of Cicillia was overcom with Jelosy of his wife with the kinge of Bohemia his Frind that came to see him, and howe he Contriued his death and wold haue had his cup berer to haue poisoned, who gaue the king of Bohemia warning ther of & fled with him to Bohemia.

Remember also howe he sent to the Orakell of Appollo & the Aunswer of Apollo, that she was giltles, and that the king was jelouse &c. and howe Except the Child was found Again that was loste the kinge should die with out yssue, for the Child was caried into Bohemia & ther laid in a forrest & brought vp by a sheppard And the kinge of Bohemia his sonn maried that wentch & howe they fled into Cicillia to Leontes, and the sheppard hauing showed the letter of the noble man by whom Leontes sente a was [away?] that child and the jewells found about her, she was knowen to be Leontes daughter and was then 16 yers old.

Remember also the Rog[ue] that cam in all tottered like coll pixci and howe he feyned him sicke & to haue bin Robbed of all that he had and howe he cosoned the por man of all his money, and after cam to the shep sher with a pedlers packe & ther cosoned them Again of all their money And howe he changed apparrell with the kinge of Bo[he]mia his sonn, and then howe he turned Courtier &c. Beware of trustinge feined beggars or fawninge fellonuss

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. Forman saw The Winter’s Tale at the Globe on 15 May 1611.

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

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