‘Tales, Tempests and such like drolleries’

  • Richard Dutton
Part of the Literary Lives book series (LL)


The last major redirection of Shakespeare’s career took place in 1608. The Children of the Revels, then occupying the Blackfriars theatre, were in disgrace for staging Chapman’s politically-pointed Byron plays, and their financial backers decided to sell back the lease of the building to the Burbages. On 9 August Richard Burbage set up a new syndicate of seven sharers in the Blackfriars, who would each contribute to the annual rent of £40 and divide the profits among them. Among the sharers were four other actors from the King’s Men, including Shakespeare, but one of these, William Sly, died only five days later and his share was redistributed among the remaining partners. The King’s Men intended to use the Blackfriars as their winter house, retaining the Globe for use in the summer, but taking advantage of the indoor theatre when the light and the weather were so much poorer. Apparently the objections to use of the building by ‘common players’ no longer applied. As with the Globe, the ownership and profits of the ‘house’ were distinct from the profits of the acting company that used it, even though some of the personnel involved were the same. Thus, when the King’s Men were finally able to take advantage of their new facility — not until late in 1609, because of the plague — Shakespeare derived two incomes from his involvement with the Blackfriars, in addition to payment for his plays.


Royal Family Public Theatre Strange Story Henry VIII Court Performance 
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  1. 3.
    Unfortunately, Forman’s habit was to write down a bare précis of the plots he saw, not an account of the productions. His notes on Common Policy’ were not very profound either. From The Winter’s Tale, observing Autolycus, he resolved to ‘Beware of trusting feigned beggars or fawning fellows’. See A. L. Rowse, Simon Forman: Sex and Society in Shakespeare’s Age (London, 1976) pp. 308–11. The quotation is on p. 311.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    Il Pastor Fido (The Faithful Shepherd) was published in 1590 and again in 1602; in 1601 Guarini also published Il Compendio della Poesia Tragicomica, a theoretical defence of his play. R. Dutton, Modern Tragicomedy and the British Tradition (Brighton, 1986) discusses Renaissance tragicomedy in general (pp. 17–53), including that of Shakespeare.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    See A. H. Thorndike, The Influence of Beaumont and Fletcher on Shakespeare (Worcester, Massachusetts, 1901) pp. 152–60;Google Scholar
  4. James Nosworthy (ed.) Cymbeline (London, 1955; reset 1969) pp. xxxvii–xl;Google Scholar
  5. A. Gurr (ed.) Philaster (London, 1969) pp. xlv–l.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    See, for example, N. Frye, A Natural Perspective: The Development of Shakespearean Comedy and Romance (London, 1964).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    See R. Dutton (ed.) Jacobean and Caroline Court Masques, Vol. I (Nottingham, 1981) p. 126. It is unlikely live bears were used in a Court masque, and I am dubious if one would have been used at the Globe, much less the Blackfriars. Bearskin costumes seem more likely.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    See, for example, Frances Yates, Shakespeare’s Last Plays: A New Approach (London, 1975);Google Scholar
  9. David M. Bergeron, Shakespeare’s Romances and the Royal Family (Lawrence, Kansas, 1986).Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    See F. P. Wilson, ‘Elizabethan and Jacobean Drama’, in R. J. Kaufmann (ed.) Elizabethan Drama: Modern Essays in Criticism (New York, 1961) p. 4.Google Scholar
  11. Also J. F. Danby, ‘Beaumont and Fletcher: Jacobean Absolutists’, in Elizabethan and Jacobean Poets (London, 1964).Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    See N. W. Bawcutt (ed.) The Two Noble Kinsmen (Harmondsworth, 1977) pp. 48–9, for a review of the debate on the authorship question.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Richard Dutton 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard Dutton
    • 1
  1. 1.Lancaster UniversityUK

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