The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0373  Friday, 10 September 2012


From:        John Peachman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         September 9, 2012 1:41:28 AM EDT

Subject:     New Blog: Guy Earl of Warwick


I am just letting list members know that I have started a blog dedicated to discussion of a play called The Tragical History, Admirable Atchievments and various events of Guy Earl of Warwick, printed in 1661 by Thomas Vere and William Gilbertson.

To answer the obvious question of why I’d dedicate a whole blog to such an obscure play, the reason is that I suspect that, although printed in 1661, Guy of Warwick is actually a work from the Elizabethan period, and that the play’s clown, called Sparrow, is a satire on Shakespeare. The idea is not original. It was first proposed by Alfred Harbage in 1941, but didn’t gain much traction until decades later when Helen Cooper revisited it in ‘Guy of Warwick, Upstart Crows and Mounting Sparrows’ (in Shakespeare, Marlowe, Jonson: New Directions in Biography, 2006). Since then, the idea has attracted more attention. Helen Moore has discussed it in her edition of Guy of Warwick for the Malone Society (2006), as has Katherine Duncan-Jones recently in ‘Shakespeare, Guy of Warwick, and Chines of Beef’ (Notes and Queries, March 2009) and Shakespeare: Upstart Crow to Sweet Swan: 1592 - 1623 (2011), 12-13.

 I have been studying Guy of Warwick for a number of years, and have had three papers related to the subject published in Notes and Queries. Full-text versions of these papers are available on the blog, but a very brief summary of my (radical) hypothesis is as follows:

1. In The Two Gentlemen of Verona Shakespeare used the characters of Lance and Crab to satirise Thomas Nashe and Ben Jonson for their roles in the Isle of Dogs affair. Since The Isle of Dogs was played in July 1597, Two Gentlemen must be later than anyone has previously supposed. I proposed a date in late 1597 or early 1598.


2. In retaliation to being satirised in Two Gentlemen, Jonson wrote Guy of Warwick in collaboration with another playwright [currently unidentified], using the clown Sparrow to satirise Shakespeare. Based on my proposed dating of Two Gentlemen, I suggested that Guy of Warwick was probably written in the first or second quarter of 1598.


As you can see, my overall hypothesis includes a significant reappraisal of The Two Gentlemen of Verona. The argument for it does not rely at all on any link with Guy of Warwick, which is a supplementary hypothesis. So even if you think you may not be interested in Guy of Warwick, you might like to at least read my Two Gentlemen paper.

The blog is at

John Peachman

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