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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: May ::
Re: Shakespeare in the Groatsworth
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0995  Tuesday, 20 May 2003

[1]     From:   Bob Grumman <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 May 2003 16:26:08 -0400
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0976 Shakespeare in the Groatsworth?

[2]     From:   Russell MacKenzie Fehr <
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        Date:   Monday, 19 May 2003 21:59:03 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0976 Shakespeare in the Groatsworth?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bob Grumman <
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Date:           Monday, 19 May 2003 16:26:08 -0400
Subject: 14.0976 Shakespeare in the Groatsworth?
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0976 Shakespeare in the Groatsworth?

>Bob Grumman writes, "I have little problem with the notion that
>Shakespeare collaborated with Peele on Titus but think it more likely
>that he was only influenced by Peele.  He may also have revised a Peele
>play.  Reason: Greene in the Groatsworth warns Peele (many scholars are
>agreed) to watch out for Shakespeare, which suggests Peele didn't know
>Shakespeare.  But that, of course, assumes that Titus was done before
>1592, which I'm sure of although I have no more factual evidence for my
>belief than Vickers has for his belief in a later date for the play.
>(Vickers has also stated it as a fact that Chettle wrote the
>Groatsworth, based on a stylometric study he likes, so he can counter
>that Chettle didn't know what he was talking about."
>
>OK, you got me.  But I am curious, just what is this warning that Greene
>gave to Peele "to watch out for Shakespeare."  Who was Greene, dates and
>place, and who was Peele, dates and place, and when and where was this
>"Goatsworth" written or published?  And what is the specific referent to
>Shakespeare?  Can you quote it?  Thanks, in advance.
>
>Bill Arnold

The text I'm referring to is Greenes Groatsworth of Witte, by Robert
Greene, playwright, poet, pamphleteer, c. 1558-1592, or--many claim--by
Henry Chettle, who had it printed shortly after Greene died.  In this
book, there is a letter by Greene (supposedly) that is written to three
of Greene's fellow-playwrights, all unnamed but described in such a way
as to identify them, in the view of most scholars who have dealt with
the book, as Marlowe, Nashe and Peele.  At one point, Greene (or
Chettle) says, "Yes trust them (actors as a class, against whom he has
been inveighing) not, for there is an upstart crow among them who, with
his "tygers hart wrapt in a players hide," supposes he is as well-able
to bombaste out a blanke verse as the best of you, and being an absolute
Johannes fac totum, is in his own conceit the onely Shake-scene in a
countrey."  (spelling only sort of accurate)  Greene is actually warning
his three associates against actors in general--here and through the
fairly short letter--but he includes Shakespeare with them.

Do a search for Greene and the Groatsworth.  I am fairly certain that
copies of it are online.

--Bob G.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Russell MacKenzie Fehr <
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Date:           Monday, 19 May 2003 21:59:03 EDT
Subject: 14.0976 Shakespeare in the Groatsworth?
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0976 Shakespeare in the Groatsworth?

Robert Greene (who was born in 1558, and died in 1592) was a playwright
and writer of prose. George Peele (who was born in 1556, and died in
1596) was another playwright. Shortly after Greene's death, a pamplet
entitled (using current spelling) Greenes, Groats-worth of witte, bought
with a million of Repentance was released. What is of interest with this
is not the actual topic of the pamplet (which is a fictionalized
autobiography of Greene), but, rather, an afterword, which is commonly
believed to have been aimed at Christopher Marlowe, Peele, and satirist
Thomas Nashe. In it, Greene warns about an "vpstart crow, beautified
with our feathers". This is under debate, and could be either a charge
of plagiarism or a complaint about an actor working as a playwright.
Greene mentions "his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde", which is a
parody of a line in 3 Henry VI ("O Tiger's heart wrapp'd in a woman's
hide"- I.iv.137), and, in addition states that the playwright "is in his
owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey".  These quotes make it
obvious that Greene is talking about Shakespeare, and is angry at him
for reasons that are still under debate to the present day.

Russell MacKenzie Fehr

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