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Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: April ::
Biographical Index to Elizabethan Theater
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0730  Friday, 23 April 1999.

From:           David Kathman <
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Date:           Friday, 23 Apr 1999 09:58:51 -0500
Subject:        Biographical Index to Elizabethan Theater

To all:

In honor of Shakespeare's (maybe) birthday, I'd like to formally
announce a project that I've mentioned in passing here before.  It's a
Biographical Index to Elizabethan Theater, and it's a framework for an
eventual Biographical Dictionary of Elizabethan Theater.  As it stands
now, the Index is an alphabetical list of every person known to have
been involved in theater in England between 1558 and 1642 (plus English
actors on the continent).  It includes actors, playwrights (including
writers of masques, entertainments, and academic plays), patrons,
Masters of the Revels and Lords Chamberlain, theater musicians,
songwriters who wrote for the theater, theatrical managers and
entreprenerus (such as Philip Henslowe and Francis Langley), carpenters
who built theaters, minor theater functionaries (such as gatherers), and
miscellaneous other people who don't fit any of these categories but who
are important for theater history (such as Francis Meres and William
Prynne).

Each entry contains the person's dates of birth and death (where known),
their role(s) in the theater, any family relationships with other people
on the list, and a chronological list of secondary sources containing
biographical information about the subject, primarily those published
since Chambers' Elizabethan Stage (1923).  These lists contain
abbreviated citations which a user can click on to go to the full
citation in the bibliography.  Only biographical sources are indexed;
works of criticism are not included unless they contain significant
biographical material.

This is a work in progress, and while I have no illusions that it is
fully complete, it is still the most complete index of this type that
has been compiled.  One of the reasons I want to make it available to
the scholarly community is to allow people to send in corrections and
omissions, so that ultimately it will reflect the collective knowledge
of all of us.  Something like this has been badly needed for a long
time;
Chambers, Bentley, and Nungezer are still used as sources of
biographical information about Elizabethan theater people, but despite
their usefulness, they're many decades out of date.  I've discovered
that even the best scholars have sometimes been unaware of biographical
discoveries made since those standard references were published.
There's just so much that's been discovered, most of it published in
scattered books and journals, that it's impossible for one person to
keep track of it all.  This index should help remedy that, and the fact
that it's on the web means that it can always be kept up to date.

The URL for the index is:

http://www.clark.net/pub/tross/ws/bd/kathman.htm

I welcome any and all suggestions, corrections, additions, or other
comments.

Dave Kathman

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