The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 24.0420  Thursday, 29 August 2013


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

Date:         Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Subject:     Shakespeare, Jonson, and the 1602 Additions The Spanish Tragedy


I have a question for the community regarding Douglas Bruster’s “Shakespearean Spellings and Handwriting in the Additional Passages Printed in the 1602 Spanish Tragedy.”


Which is nicely summarized in this recent NYT piece:


Much Ado About Who: Is It Really Shakespeare?

Further Proof of Shakespeare’s Hand in ‘The Spanish Tragedy’




Bruster follows in a lengthy tradition going back at least to Coleridge, arguing (based on handwriting deductions referencing the presumed Shakespeare passage in H8) that Shakespeare, not Ben Jonson, wrote the 1602 Spanish Tragedy additions.


My question: how do those who claim this explain the solid external evidence of Henslowe’s payments to Jonson on 25 Sept. 1601 (“upon hn writtinge of his adicians in geronymo”) and 22 June 1602 (for “new adicyons for Jeronymo”)?


(cf. Foakes, Henslowe’s Diary second edition, pp. 183 and 203.)


If find that Brian Vickers rather skims past this question in his 2012 “Identifying Shakespeare’s Additions to The Spanish Tragedy (1602): A New(er) Approach”:


“It is worth observing that we do not know whether Jonson, or Bird ever delivered these additions”




And Bruster, in his brief four-page article, never mentions these entries, offering purely internal evidence (unless you consider the H8 handwriting analysis to be external evidence, somewhat removed and inevitably somewhat speculative).


I don’t have a dog in this fight, but am quite curious: if Shakespeare wrote the additions that appeared in 1602, what do people think Henslowe was paying Jonson for?


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