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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Date of King John
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0172  Thursday, 27 January 2005

[1]     From:   Bill Lloyd <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 26 Jan 2005 16:20:10 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0153 Date of King John

[2]     From:   William Godshalk <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 26 Jan 2005 20:16:36 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0153 Date of King John


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Bill Lloyd <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Jan 2005 16:20:10 EST
Subject: 16.0153 Date of King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0153 Date of King John

An interesting recent essay on both Shakespeare's King John and
Troublesome Reign of King John is Brian Vickers' essay in the MacDonald
Jackson festschrift *Words That Count* ed. Brian Boyd (U.Delaware, 2004).

The essay is called *The Troublesome Raigne*, George Peele, and the Date
of  *King John*.  In it Vickers, building on suggestions by Dugdale
Sykes, makes a plausible case for Peele's authorship of the earlier
play, and provides a survey of the controversy over the date of
Shakespeare's play. As noted by Peter Bridgman, E.A.J.Hongimann [and
some other adherants of the 'early start' theory of Shakespeare's
career] date *King John* to 1590, and regard *Troublesome Reign* as
derivative of it. While they have argued vigorously, it would have to be
said that, consensus-wise, they are in the minority. As long ago as
Dover Wilson's 'New Shakespeare' edition a close connection with
*Richard II* [1595] was argued, and Gary Taylor in the Oxford Textual
Companion also dates *King John* to 1595. Vickers reviews some of
Jackson's chronology work, adds some observations of his own, and argues
for 1596. And of course it follows [as most agree] that TRKJ was
Shakespeare's source, not the other way round.

Perhaps because Shakespeare's *King John* is not quite the tour de force
that the earlier *Richard III* [1592-3] is, there may be a tendency to
want to date it before that play. But the evidence associates it closely
with *Richard II*, and it appears that the current consensus date is
1595-6, which in the succession of history plays would place it between
*Richard II* and *1 Henry IV*.

Bill Lloyd

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           William Godshalk <
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Date:           Wednesday, 26 Jan 2005 20:16:36 -0500
Subject: 16.0153 Date of King John
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0153 Date of King John

Wells and Taylor in William Shakespeare: A Textual Companion, p. 317,
briefly discuss Honigmann's position that Shakespeare's King John was
earlier than the Troublesome Reign, published in 1591, and conclude that
there are substantial objections to his position. Honigmann regards the
TR as a sort of bad quarto. Bevington believes that most scholars accept
a date between 1594 and 1596 for KJ, but admits that there are few
dating clues.

What I find interesting is that there are few "points of similarity"
(Wells and Taylor) in the language of the two plays. If Munday or Peele
possibly wrote the TR after Shakespeare's KJ appeared, or indeed, vice
versa, wouldn't we expect more verbal reminiscences -- especially if
Shakespeare were working from a printed text that appeared some
(perhaps) three to five years before his script was written. As many
scholars point out, Shakespeare liked to work with the source text open
before him as he wrote. The prime evidence for this procedure is that
Shakespeare often copied verbatim, or now and again selected key words,
from his sources. If he did use the TR for the source of KJ, he did not
crib extensively from his source text. Why not?

The author(s) of TR would not have had this luxury -- if indeed TR was
written after KJ which was not printed until 1623. So the TR author(s)
would have had to work from memory or from a manuscript of some kind. If
from ms, we would expect to find more points of similarity in the language.

The TR relationship to KJ is a wonderful puzzle.

Bill Godshalk

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