The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1631

The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1631

The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1631

The Tragedy of Hoffman, 1631

Excerpt

All that is known of the date and authorship of The Tragedy of Hoffman is that on 29 December 1602, Henslowe lent five shillings to Thomas Downton, an actor belonging to the Lord Admiral's Company, 'to geue vnto harey chettle in p+?te of paymente for a tragedie called Hawghman' ( Greg, Henslowe's Diary, i. 173). Attempts to connect the play with other payments recorded in the Diary, including one for 'a danyshe tragedy', are unsatisfactory, and the 'tragedie called Hawghman' would no doubt have been listed by scholars among plays projected but not written, had it not been for the quarto of 1631. Perhaps it was completed only after Henslowe's accounts break off in March 1603. Chettle's source is unknown, though a man called "Hans Hofeman" was in fact beheaded at Danzig in 1580.

If the play was delivered to the Admiral's Company, presumably they acted it at the Fortune or in the provinces during their tour of 1603, or quite possibly both. But the only authenticated performances are those referred to on the 1631 title-page, which implies a successful revival within recent memory 'at the Phenix in Druery-lane'. This raises a difficulty, for there is no evidence that the successors of the Admiral's Company, the Palsgrave's men, ever acted in this playhouse. It was owned and managed by Christopher Beeston, who had been a member of Worcester's Company, which became Queen Anne's, and who came into a good deal of this company's property when it broke up in 1619. And Chettle was working for Worcester's as well as for the Admiral's during 1602-3 ( Henslowe's Diary, ii. 252).Therefore, although the initial payment for Hoffman came from the Admiral's, one cannot rule out the possibility that the bargain lapsed and that Chettle sold the completed play to Worcester's instead.

The revival at the Phœnix was probably acted by Queen Henrietta's men, who occupied this playhouse continuously . . .

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