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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Re: Woodstock
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1412  Wednesday, 9 July 2003

[1]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 18:00:15 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.1391 Re: Woodstock

[2]     From:   Mac Jackson <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 9 Jul 2003 13:09:04 +1200
        Subj:   RE: SHK 14.1391 Re: Woodstock


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Tuesday, 8 Jul 2003 18:00:15 EDT
Subject: 14.1391 Re: Woodstock
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.1391 Re: Woodstock

Fair enough, Michael Egan. I'll have read MacDonald Jackson's essay on
Woodstock in a few weeks, and I look forward to seeing your edition of
Woodstock. I know it's not always easy to tie these things down, but do
we have a general idea when it will appear?

I don't think I was 'playing' with the word hypothesis, just pointing
out, as do you that some hypotheses are stronger than others. As I've
pointed out before, it is only a hypothesis, based on circumstances and
probability, that Richard Burbage played Macbeth. But although some
hypotheses are so well supported as to be accorded the status of 'for
all practical purposes' [e.g. the hand of Fletcher in HenVIII], even
strongly supported hypotheses are subject to questioning. It's not
inconceivable that someday documentary evidence will be found proving
that John Lowin played Macbeth while Burbage took Macduff, or that
Shakespeare did not attend Stratford free school but was sent off to
Lancashire to be tutored by relatives, or some such. Until then we'll
stick with the generally accepted views, the highly probable
hypotheses-- but they are =still= hypotheses.

The marginal names in Woodstock that may be actors do not stand alone;
instead they are part of the wider context provided by MS Egerton 1994
as a whole. It is this that leads some to suggest identifications for
these names. A very tentative hypothesis to be sure, but not I think
entirely unjustifiable.

All right everyone, back to work!

Bill Lloyd

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mac Jackson <
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Date:           Wednesday, 9 Jul 2003 13:09:04 +1200
Subject: 14.1391 Re: Woodstock
Comment:        RE: SHK 14.1391 Re: Woodstock

Michael Egan has kindly mentioned my "Shakespeare's Richard II and the
Anonymous Thomas of Woodstock", Medieval and Renaissance Drama in
England, 14 (2002), 17-65, in which I argue that Woodstock was composed
in the seventeenth century, probably around 1606-10 by Samuel Rowley.
Some fine scholars - Charles Forker and David Lake among them - have
found it convincing, and Thomas Merriam provides some supporting
evidence in "More and Woodstock", Notes and Queries, 248 (2003), 27-31.
But Michael considers my argument "logically and factually flawed". I
don't yet know what the flaws are, though a fifty-page article must
certainly contain some mistakes.  As Michael says, scholars interested
in Woodstock should look at it for themselves. My main points are that
Woodstock's metrical features, vocabulary, and use of expletives and
contracted forms cannot be paralleled in any plays before the turn of
the century. The three independent types of evidence all converge on the
same dating. I give reasons for thinking that all the crucial
characteristics cannot have been introduced in the course of late
revision or adaptation.

As far as the development of the English history and chronicle play
goes, my dating puts Woodstock closer to Thomas Lord Cromwell and Sir
John Oldcastle than to Shakespeare's earliest histories.

In my article I drew attention to some archaic spellings that link
Samuel Rowley's autograph letters to Henslowe with the Woodstock
manuscript. But I underestimated the strength of one of these links.
Rowley tends to capitalizes "In", "Is", and "If" in mid-sentence, and
Woodstock contains not only examples of capital "I" within words (as I
noted) but also (as I failed to note) several examples of "In" and at
least two of "Is" within sentences and not starting verse lines. I've
been working through Malone Society Reprints of all the other extant
early modern dramatic manuscripts, without yet finding one that contain
examples of mid-sentence capitalized "In" and "Is". This is a very
trivial point, compared to all my other bits of evidence for ascribing
Woodstock to Rowley, but it does seem to me of some significance.

Mac Jackson

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