A Life of William Shakespeare

By Joseph Quincy Adams | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXIX THE ATTEMPTED COLLECTION OF 1619

IN 1619, the three years after the death of the poet, an unscrupulous bookseller named Thomas Pavier attempted to foist upon the public a small and for the most part fraudulent collected edition of Shakespeare's plays. As possession the copyright of five plays. (1) A Yorkshire Tragedy, which he himself had impudently put forth in 1608 as "by William Shakespeare"; the deception, he felt, could again be practised. (2) Sir John Oldcastle, by Drayton, Hathaway, Munday, and Wilson, printed in 1600 as acted by the Admiral's Men. Since Sir John Falstaff was still popularly known as Sir John Oldcastle, Pavier resolved to reprint this play as Shakespeare's, hoping that the unwary public would be deceived by its title into supposing that it was Henry IV, or at least that it was from the pen of the master. (3 and 4) The Contention betwixt the Two Famous Houses of York and Lancaster, and its sequel The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, two old Marlovian plays that had been refurbished by Shakespeare for the Pembroke's Men, and which, after the disbanding of that troupe, had been printed in 1594 and 1595. Later they had been further revised by Shakespeare for the Chamberlain's Company as II Henry VI and III Henry VI. The original texts of 1594 and 1595 Pavier resolved to reissue as "newly corrected and enlarged, written by William Shakespeare, Gent." (5) Henry V, in the corrupt and mangled edition of 1600.

Although these were all the plays that Pavier owned,

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