1610s

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. 339-340

Production: Unknown author, Richard II, Globe theatre, London, 30 April 1611

Text: In Richard the 2 at the Glob 1611 the 30 of Aprill ♂ [Tuesday]

Remember therin howe Jack Straw by his overmoch boldnes not beinge pollitick nor suspecting Anye thinge: was Soddenly at Smithfeld Bars stabbed by Walworth the major of London, & soe he and his wholle Army was overthrowen. Therefore in such a case or the like, never admit any party without a bar betwen, for A man cannot be to wise, nor kepe him selfe to safe.

Also remember howe the duke of Gloster, The Erell of Arundell, Oxford and others, crossing the kinge in his humor, about the duke of Erland and Bushy, wer glad to fly and Raise an hoste of men, and beinge in his Castell, howe the d. of Erland cam by nighte to betray him with 300 men, but hauinge pryuie warninge ther of kept his gates faste, And wold not suffer the Enimie to Enter, which went back Again with a flie in his eare, and after was slainte by the Errell of Arundell in the battell.

Remember also, when the duke and Arundell cam to London with their Army, king Richard came forth to them and met them and gaue them fair wordes. And promised them pardon and that all should be well yf they wold discharge their Army, vpon whose promises and faier Speaches they did yt, and Affter the king byd them all to A banket and soe betraid them And Cut of their heades &c because they had not his pardon vnder his hand & sealle before but his worde.

Remember therin Also howe the ducke of Lankaster pryuily contryued all villany, to set them all together by the ears and to make the nobilyty to Envy the kinge and mislyke of him and his gouernmentes by which means he made his own sonn king which was henry Bullinbrocke.

Remember also howe the duke of Lankaster asked A wise man, wher him self should ever be kinge, And he told him no, but his sonn should be a kinge. And when he had told him he hanged him vp for his labor, because he should not brute yt a brod or speke ther of to others. This was a pollicie in the common wealthes opinion. But I sai yt was a Villains parte and a Judas kisse to hange the man for telling him the truth. Beware by this Example of noble men, and of their fair wordes. & sai lyttell to them, lest they doe the like by thee for thy good will.

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. the fourth was this production of Richard II, which covers events earlier than those in Shakespeare’s play of the same name. Though some have argued that the Forman document is a forgery, it is generally accepted as authentic.

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

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)

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)

The Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton

Source: Sir Henry Wotton to Sir Edmund Bacon, letter dated 2 July 1613, reproduced in Logan Pearsall Smith (ed.), The Life and Letters of Sir Henry Wotton (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1907), vol. II, pp. 32-33

Production: John Fletcher/William Shakespare, Henry VIII, Globe theatre, London, 29 June 1613

Text: Sir,

Whereas I wrote unto you, that I would be at Cambridge as on Saturday next, I am now cast off again till the King’s return to London, which will be about the middle of the week following. The delay grows from a desire of seeing Albertus his business settled before we come unto you, where we mean to forget all the world besides. Of this we shall bring you the account.

Now, to let matters of state sleep, I will entertain you at the present with what hath happened this week at the Bank’s side. The King’s players had a new play, called All is true, representing some principal pieces of the reign of Henry VIII, which was set forth with many extraordinary circumstances of pomp and majesty, even to the matting of the stage; the Knights of the Order with their Georges and garters, the Guards with their embroidered coats, and the like: sufficient in truth within a while to make greatness very familiar, if not ridiculous. Now, King Henry making a masque at the Cardinal Wolsey’s house, and certain chambers being shot off at his entry, some of the paper, or other stuff, wherewith one of them was stopped, did light on the thatch, where being thought at first but an idle smoke, and their eyes more attentive to the show, it kindled inwardly, and ran round like a train, consuming within less than an hour the whole house to the very grounds.

This was the fatal period of that virtuous fabric, wherein yet nothing did perish but wood and straw, and a few forsaken cloaks; only one man had his breeches set on fire, that would perhaps have broiled him, if he had not by the benefit of a provident wit put it out with bottle ale. The rest when we meet; till when, I protest every minute is the siege of Troy. God’s dear blessings till then and ever be with you.

Your poor uncle and faithful servant,

Henry Wotton

Comments: Henry Wotton (1568-1639) was an English poet and diplomat. Edmund Bacon was his nephew. The Globe theatre was built in 1599 for Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s men, and burned down during a performance of Henry VIII on 29 June 1613. Wotton gives the title of the play as All is True, which was adopted as its title by the Oxford edition of the plays in 1986. The Globe was rebuilt in 1614, closed down in 1642 and pulled down around 1644-45.

Links: Copy at the Internet Archive

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. 337-338

Production: William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Globe theatre, London, 20 April 1611

Text: In Mackbeth at the Glob, 1610 [sic], the 20 of Aprill ♄, ther was to be obserued, firste, howe Mackbeth and Bancko, 2 noble men of Scotland, Ridinge thorowe a wod, the[r] stode before them 3 women feiries or Nimphes, And saluted Mackbeth, sayinge, 3 tyms vnto him, haille Mackbeth, king of Codon; for thou shalt be a kinge, but shalt beget No kinges, &c. Then said Bancko, What all to Mackbeth And nothing to me. Yes, said the nimphes, haille to thee Bancko, thou shalt beget kinges, yet be no kinge. And so they departed & cam to the Courte of Scotland to Dunkin king of Scotes, and yt was in the dais of Edward the Confessor. And Dunkin bad them both kindly wellcome, And made Mackbeth forth with Prince of Northumberland, and sent him hom to his own castell, and appointed Mackbeth to prouid for him, for he would sup with him the next dai at night, & did soe. And Mackebeth contrived to kill Dunkin, & thorowe the persuasion of his wife did that night Murder the kinge in his own Castell, beinge his guest. And ther were many prodigies seen that night & the dai before. And when Mack Beth had murdred the kinge, the blod on his handes could not be washed of by Any meanes, nor from his wiues handes, which handled the bloddi daggers in hiding them, By which means they became both moch amazed & Affronted. The murder being knowen, Dunkins 2 sons fled, the on to England, the [other to] Walles, to saue them selues, they being fled, they were supposed guilty of the murder of their father, which was nothinge so. Then was Mackbeth crowned kinge, and then he for feare of Banko, his old companion, that he should beget kinges but be no kinge him selfe, he contriued the death of Banko, and caused him to be Murdred on the way as as he Rode. The next night, beinge at supper with his noble men whom he had bid to a feaste to the which also Banco should haue com, he began to speake of Noble Banco, to wish that he wer ther. And as he thus did, standing vp to drincke a Carouse to him, the ghoste of Banco came and sate down in his cheier behind him. And he turninge About to sit down Again sawe the goste of Banco, which fronted him so, that he fell into a great passion of fear and fury, Vtterynge many wordes about his murder, by which, when they hard that Banco was Murdred they Suspected Mackbet.

Then MackDove fled to England to the kinges sonn And soe they Raised an Army, And cam into Scotland, and at Dunston Anyse overthrue Mackbet. In the meantyme whille Macdouee was in England, Mackbet slewe Mackdoues wife & children, and after in the battelle Mackdoue slewe Mackbet.

Obserue Also howe Mackbetes quen did Rise in the night in her slepe, & walke and talked and confessed all, & the docter noted her wordes.

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. It is also accepted that Forman got the year of the performance wrong, and it should be 1611.

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