"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."
-- Proverbs 29:18, King James Bible (KJV)

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Shakespeare Authorship Controversy: What About Sir John Oldcastle?

The Shakespeare Authorship Controversy:
What About Sir John Oldcastle?

The Elizabethan play Sir John Oldcastle was attributed to William Shakespeare starting about 1600.

However, for the previous year, 1599, we find in the records that the play was attributed to Anthony Munday and others. The diary of the dominant play production entrepreneur Philip Henslowe according to the Lost Plays Database provided that:
"In October 1599 [prior to Shakespeare attribution],the Admiral's Men purchased a part one of a play on the life of Sir John Oldcastle from Anthony Munday, Michael Drayton, Robert Wilson, and Richard Hathway...." [emphasis added]
Martin Frost writes:
"Sir John Oldcastle was originally published in 1600, attributed on the title page to "William Shakespeare" (STC 18796). In 1619, a second edition also attributed it to Shakespeare. In fact, the diary of Philip Henslowe records that it was written by Anthony Munday, Michael Drayton, Richard Hathaway and Robert Wilson." [emphasis added]
John S. Farmer of The Tudor Facsimile Texts wrote about Sir John Oldcastle:
"Two editions of this play were issued in 1600; one impression [B.M. Press-mark, C.34, I. 1] ascribed it to Shakespeare, the other [C. 34, I. 2] did not.... [emphasis added]

Henslowe's "Diary" seems incontestably to negative the ascription to Shakespeare."
The Wikipedia writes about the play Sir John Oldcastle that:
"... Sir John Oldcastle was an actual person ... hanged and burned for heresy and treason in 1417 — thus earning himself a place in the seminal text of the Protestant Reformation in Tudor England, John Foxe's Book of Martyrs.

Oldcastle was also a minor character in the early Elizabethan history play The Famous Victories of Henry V (c. 1586?), which is generally thought to have been one of Shakespeare's sources for his plays on Henry IV and Henry V." [emphasis added]
The Famous Victories of Henry V mentioned above was almost certainly written by Christopher Marlowe in his younger days, containing what are argued to be characters taken from Marlowe's early childhood life. As written by Cynthia Morgan:
"What is most interesting about The Famous Victories is that two of the characters were named John Cobler .. and Lawrence Costermonger [Marlowe's father was a shoemaker, i.e. a "cobbler", while Marlowe himself was nicknamed "The Cobbler"] .. One of John Marlowe's good friends and neighbor was Laurence APPLEgate, a Canterbury tailor. When we look at the meaning of "Costermonger", an obvious pun and not a true surname, we find a close identification for Laurence APPLEgate because the word "costermonger" was used for a street seller of APPLES." [emphasis and capitalization added]


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