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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: August ::
Re: Stationer's Register
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.1798  Tuesday, 26 August 2002

From:           Marcus Dahl <
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Date:           Monday, 26 Aug 2002 09:37:55 EDT
Subject: 13.1785 Re: Stationer's Register
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.1785 Re: Stationer's Register

Dear William (and others):

I have of course read Blayney's article but was interested in what
people *thought* about it. If you accept Blayney's argument, that's
fine. You will of course have noticed however that even people who agree
with his views have also been known to qualify them or discuss the
reasons for their agreement.  For example, the idea that there was a
'fashion' for history plays is repeated by John Jowett in a passage
shortly before his quotation of the ubiquitous Blayney article:

'It might not be an accident that two plays handed over to the
stationers in 1597 were both, like Henry VI, history plays. One of them,
Rich. II, was a relatively recent work depicting events some time before
the reign of Henry VI. The other play, Rich. III, brought the events of
Henry VI to a close. It is doubtful whether either play had lost its
appeal in the theatre. Shakespeare was currently engaged above all in
writing the two parts of Henry IV with a view to completing what we now
call the Second Tetralogy. It therefore looks as though the
Chamberlain's Men were advertising their principal dramatist's
specialisation in writing history plays...' p.111

I am interested in both the idea of a 'fashion' for history plays, the
connection between this and the SR entries and the companies. For
example, in 1594/5 we assume that it was the Pembrokes Men (or Derby's
or Sussex's) who performed Contention and True Tragedy but both these
plays are thought (along with the mysterious 1HVI) to have been
collaborative. Jowett seems to imply that it was Shakespeare who began
the apparent fashion for History plays. But if critics like Taylor etal
are right then it is Shakespeare who is lucky enough to live long enough
to keep writing History plays after his previous collaborators (with
different companies) have died. (i.e. Greene, Nashe etc).

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