Thomas of Woodstock and Richard the Second Part One are two names for an untitled, anonymous and apparently incomplete manuscript of an Elizabethan play depicting events in the reign of King Richard II. Attributions of the play to William Shakespeare have been nearly universally rejected, and it does not appear in major editions of the Shakespeare apocrypha.The play has been often cited as a possible influence on Shakespeare's Richard II , as well as Henry IV, Parts 1 and 2 , but new dating of the text brings that relationship into question.
Dramatis Personae after Corbin and Sedge (2002)
The play survives only as an anonymous, untitled and incomplete manuscript, part of a collection of fifteen plays in the British Library catalogued as MS. Egerton 1994. The collection was discovered by James Halliwell-Phillipps, and also includes Edmund Ironside , another play whose authorship has been attributed by some scholars to William Shakespeare.
The collection was compiled by a seventeenth century actor in the King's Revels Men, William Cartwright (ca. 1606–1686; not to be confused with his contemporary poet/dramatist of the same name), who later became a bookseller and collector of plays during the English Civil War.
There is no confirmed recorded production of the play during Shakespeare's lifetime, although the well-worn state of the Egerton manuscript, the presence of notations referencing specific actors' names, and the inclusion of instructions within the text's margins suggesting censorship by the Master of Revels all suggest that the play enjoyed heavy use even during the Jacobean period.Significantly, it is not known which acting company owned or performed the play.
A transcript of the text was published by the Malone Society in 1929, and in fully edited texts by A. P. Rossiter in 1946, Peter Corbin and Douglas Sedge in 2002, and Michael Egan in 2003.
The play covers the events leading up to the murder of Richard II's uncle, Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester, in 1397. The manuscript has no title. Most scholars and theatre companies who have worked on the play call it Thomas of Woodstock or Woodstock, but some entitle it Richard II, Part One, either as the main title or as a sub-title.Those who elect to call it Richard II, Part One or by similar titles do so because the play describes events immediately prior to Shakespeare's Richard II and provides context for the behaviour of many of Shakespeare's characters. However, this title has been criticised as "going too far", because it makes the play's relationship to Shakespeare's play seem definitive when it is only speculative. Moreover, events depicted in Woodstock are covered as well in Richard II (such as the farming out of the kingdom and the death of Green), so that play cannot be a sequel in the ordinary meaning of the term. A.P. Rossiter, who edited the play, preferred the title Woodstock since Woodstock is the play's protagonist, not Richard. Corbin and Sedge both throughout their edition evidence that Shakespeare was familiar with the play, drew inspiration from it (especially in King Lear , particularly in the quarto version), and expected audiences to be familiar with it in Richard II, noting that many modern productions reverse the first two scenes to give the audience a better understanding of the events that occurred before the play opens.
Given the play's close relationship to the subject matter of Richard II, Shakespeare's authorship has been suggested, although few of the play's earlier editors supported this speculation. The Malone Society editor makes no reference to the Shakespeare theory.A.P. Rossiter states "There is not the smallest chance that he was Shakespeare", citing the drabness of the verse, while acknowledging that the play's aspirations indicate that "There is something of a simplified Shakespeare" in the author.
Other authors have been suggested. In 2001 MacDonald P. Jackson used stylistic analysis to propose Samuel Rowley as a possible author.
Corbin and Sedge argue that Thomas of Woodstock was written by an author of "considerable range and competence", but they regard any attribution to Shakespeare "or any other author" as "highly speculative". Nonetheless, they note that:
In 2006 Michael Egan offered a case for Shakespeare's authorship of the play in a four volume (2100-page) variorum edition, which includes a book-length authorship analysis.His evidence consists for the most part in what he suggests are thousands of verbal parallels. Egan claimed that Ian Robinson supported the attribution of the play to Shakespeare in a 1988 publication, Richard II and Woodstock. but he cited no other adherents to this view. Ward Elliott reported that he had performed stylometric analysis on the manuscript's text which he claimed discounts Egan's attribution. In a review of Egan's treatise for the Times Literary Supplement, Bart Van Es also challenged Egan's attribution, arguing that the verbal links he had found were often tenuous. Egan wagered £1,000 that he could prove "by clear, convincing and irrefutable evidence" that Shakespeare wrote the play. In 2011, a panel of three independent Shakespeare scholars concluded that he had not done so, and that the play was not Shakespearean. Eric Sams, in an appendix on Woodstock planned for the second volume of his The Real Shakespeare (2008), also presented linguistic and circumstantial arguments for Shakespeare's authorship of "this powerful drama".
An argument against Shakespeare's authorship is the fact that the character of Sir Henry Green is killed fighting in Act V of Thomas of Woodstock, yet is alive again at the beginning of Richard II until his execution is ordered by Bolingbroke in Act III. There is no instance of a character dying twice in the validated works of Shakespeare.[ citation needed ] There are, however, inconsistencies in Shakespeare, such as the claim at the end of Henry IV, Part 2 that Falstaff will be seen again in Henry V, a promise which is not kept. Furthermore, the character of Falstaff is arguably a different one in the history plays than the character encountered in The Merry Wives of Windsor , not to mention the apparent setting of that play in Renaissance England rather than Prince Hal's time.
The 1929 Malone Society editor states that most scholars place its composition between 1591 and 1595.Ule and Baker date it more precisely to about 1582; they believe it was written by Christopher Marlowe while he was at Cambridge, shortly after he had completed other plays they attribute to him such as Timon, and The Famous Victories of Henry V . Corbin and Sedge, while cautioning that "[d]ating by suppositions of literary or theatrical influence is ... a hazardous business," nonetheless state that "in so far as literary influence may help dating, it would seem probable that Woodstock was written, and perhaps staged, some time before 1595." Egan dates the play to 1592–1593, while dating the manuscript to 1605. MacDonald P. Jackson argues that "Woodstock's contractions and linguistic forms, expletives, metrical features and vocabulary all point independently to composition in the first decade of the seventeenth century", a conclusion which would make the play's relationship with Richard II that of a "prequel" rather than a source. Eric Sams (2008) conjectured c.1590 as its original composition date, placing it after The First Part of the Contention, which he considered to be by the same author and a major influence on its language, content and treatment.
The Hampshire Shakespeare Company, a non-professional theatre in Amherst, Massachusetts, staged the first known American production of Thomas of Woodstock in 1999. Local writer Frederick Carrigg supplied an ending to cover the missing manuscript page(s).
Royal Blood: The Rise and Fall of Kings was a 10-play series of Shakespeare's history plays staged chronologically over four seasons by the Pacific Repertory Theatre from 2001 to 2004, which included the American professional premieres of both Edward III and Thomas of Woodstock. They proposed Shakespeare as the author of both plays in their first arc in 2001, consisting of Edward III, Thomas of Woodstock, and Richard II.
The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., staged Richard II in 2010 with director Michael Kahn's incorporation of a significant part of Thomas of Woodstock at the start of the play.
On 20 December 2013 the Royal Shakespeare Company gave a rehearsed reading of the play at London's Barbican Centre in the context of its ongoing performances of Richard II. The text was significantly cut by the director (for example the subplot involving Nimble and the blank charters was excised) to highlight the relationship between the two plays.
In 2020 the Beyond Shakespeare Company released on line a play-reading and discussion of Thomas of Woodstock on YouTube.
Christopher Marlowe, also known as Kit Marlowe, was an English playwright, poet and translator of the Elizabethan era. Marlowe is among the most famous of the Elizabethan playwrights. Based upon the "many imitations" of his play Tamburlaine, modern scholars consider him to have been the foremost dramatist in London in the years just before his mysterious early death. Some scholars also believe that he greatly influenced William Shakespeare, who was baptised in the same year as Marlowe and later succeeded him as the pre-eminent Elizabethan playwright. Marlowe was the first to achieve critical reputation for his use of blank verse, which became the standard for the era. His plays are distinguished by their overreaching protagonists. Themes found within Marlowe's literary works have been noted as humanistic with realistic emotions, which some scholars find difficult to reconcile with Marlowe's "anti-intellectualism" and his catering to the prurient tastes of his Elizabethan audiences for generous displays of extreme physical violence, cruelty, and bloodshed.
The Life and Death of King Richard the Second, commonly called Richard II, is a history play by William Shakespeare believed to have been written around 1595. It is based on the life of King Richard II of England and chronicles his downfall and the machinations of his nobles. It is the first part of a tetralogy, referred to by some scholars as the Henriad, followed by three plays about Richard's successors: Henry IV, Part 1; Henry IV, Part 2; and Henry V.
The Raigne of King Edward the Third, commonly shortened to Edward III, is an Elizabethan play printed anonymously in 1596, and probably partly written by William Shakespeare. It began to be included in publications of the complete works of Shakespeare only in the late 1990s. Scholars who have supported this attribution include Jonathan Bate, Edward Capell, Eliot Slater, Eric Sams, Giorgio Melchiori, and Brian Vickers. The play's co-author remains the subject of debate: suggestions have included Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, Michael Drayton, Thomas Nashe, and George Peele.
Thomas of Woodstock, 1st Duke of Gloucester was the fifth surviving son and youngest child of King Edward III of England and Philippa of Hainault.
Henry IV, Part 1 is a history play by William Shakespeare, believed to have been written no later than 1597. It is the second play in Shakespeare's tetralogy dealing with the successive reigns of Richard II, Henry IV, and Henry V. Henry IV, Part 1 depicts a span of history that begins with Hotspur's battle at Homildon Hill in Northumberland against Douglas late in 1402, and ends with the defeat of the rebels at the Battle of Shrewsbury in the middle of 1403. From its first performance, it has been an extremely popular play both with the public and critics.
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The Lords Appellant were a group of nobles in the reign of King Richard II, who, in 1388, sought to impeach some five of the King's favourites in order to restrain what was seen as tyrannical and capricious rule. The word appellant simply means '[one who is] appealing [in a legal sense]'. It is the older (Norman) French form of the present participle of the verb appeler, the equivalent of the English 'to appeal'. The group was called the Lords Appellant because its members invoked a procedure under law to start prosecution of the king's unpopular favourites known as 'an appeal': the favourites were charged in a document called an "appeal of treason", a device borrowed from civil law which led to some procedural complications.
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The True Tragedy of Richard III is an anonymous Elizabethan history play on the subject of Richard III of England. It has attracted the attention of scholars of English Renaissance drama principally for the question of its relationship with William Shakespeare's Richard III.
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The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the life and legacy of William Shakespeare. William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor who lived during the 17th century. He is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon".
There is a full chapter about this anonymous play in Kevin De Ornellas, The Horse in Early Modern English Culture, Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2013. ISBN 978-1611476583.