Phillip Henslowe

 

The chief proprietor and manager of theatres in the time of "Shakespeare" was Philip Henslowe. He kept a diary in which he entered the names of all the dramatic poets with whom he had dealings, together with the titles of the plays sold to him and the amounts paid for them. This diary is still in existence, and covers almost the exact period (1591- 1609) during which the "Shakespeare" plays being first produced. In this diary Henslowe names twenty-seven well known playwrights, but the name Shaksper or Shakespeare does not appear among them.

In this diary are certain plays that have no author's names assigned to them, including the plays "King Lear," "Henry V," "HenryVI," "Richard III," "The Taming of the Shrew," and "Titus Andronicus." The diary extends over a period of eighteen years and bears a record not only of the dramas played in the theatres under Henslowe's management, but also the amounts of money advanced by him from time to time to the authors, and yet we find that the name of Shaksper never once occurs in it from beginning to end. Sir Sidney Lee says that Shaksper wrote the plays for profit, and yet Henslowe never paid him anything for the "Shakespeare" plays mentioned above. This was because the real "Shakespeare" did not write the plays for the stage only, but for the benefit of mankind.

Is it a coincidence that Henslowe's diary, which shows extensive dealings with London dramatists, never mentions Shaksper or Shakespeare by name?

***

return to the directory