Almanac, The

Anon. (1611) (not lost?)

Historical Records

Revels Accounts


      The, names, of the Playes And by what Cumpaney Played
them hearafter ffollowethe: As Allso what Maskes, and Triumphes
att the Tilte waere presented before the kinges Matie in this year. 1612
The Queens players:    St: Iohn: Night A play Called the City Gallant
The princes players: The: Sunday, ffollowinge A Play called the Almanak
The Kings Players: On neweres, Night A Play Called the Twinnes Tragedie
And Ruing [sic] att the Ring.

(National Archives, AO 3/908/14, fols. 1v, 2r; qtd. Streitberger 48.)

Audit Accounts

To Edward Iuby for himselfe and his fellowes the Princes highnes servauntes vpon the lyke warraunte dated at whit­hall xviij° die Iunij 1612 for presenting twoe severall playes before his Maty viz’ one vpon the xxviijth of De­cember last and the other vpon the xxixth of the same at xxty Nobles for each play and five Nobles for a rewarde of each playe… xxli
(National Archives, 1/389/49, fol. 267b; qtd. Cook and Wilson 53.)

Theatrical Provenance

Performed by the Prince's Men at Whitehall on 29 December 1611.

Probable Genre(s)

Comedy (?) (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

See Critical Commentary below.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Identification with No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's

Eccles proposed that the play performed in 1611 should be identified with Thomas Middleton's No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's (published in 1657) based on the quotations from Thomas Bretnor's 1611 almanac by the character Weatherwise: "The Almanac, then[,] is an apt title for No Wit, since Weatherwise, the chief humorist, either reads from or refers to the almanac in six out of the eleven scenes and in the epilogue" (297). Since the identification would have implications for the dating of Middleton's play, Eccles proposes that the Prince's Men premiered Middleton's play at the Fortune, the same venue at which the same company had performed The Roaring Girl in April 1611.

Jowett, writing in 1991, endorsed Eccles's claims, adding: "An almanac figures more conspicuously in No Wit than in any other extant play of the period" (191). However, while defending the Middletonian authority of the title No Wit/Help Like a Woman's, he later concedes that "The Almanac is a comparatively poor description of the play as a whole" and, despite Weatherwise's "striking and substantial dramatic role, he is not central to the play's structure" (193). To account for this, he proposes that the 1611 court performance of No Wit may have been "an adaptation that highlighted Weatherwise" and was renamed accordingly (194), citing the use of the title The Mayor of Quinsborough for Hengist, referring to the lead character of the comic subplot. He also points to the play's incorporation of almanac imagery throughout.

Jowett adopted "The Almanac" as an alternate title in his edition of No Wit for the Oxford Middleton and proposes that the epilogue, in which Weatherwise consults his almanac, "might hypothetically have been added for the court performance where the play was called The Almanac" (782).

Kok proposes that Middleton's allusion to Edward Pond in the play would have had a topical resonance if No Wit were the play that was performed at court in December 1611.

Wiggins, British Drama, accepts the identification of "The Almanac" with No Wit.

For What It's Worth

Information welcome.

Works Cited

Cook, David and F. P. Wilson, eds. "Dramatic Records in the Declared Accounts of the Treasurer of the Chamber 1558-1642". In Malone Society Collections VI. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1961.
Eccles, Mark. "Middleton's Comedy The Almanac, or No Wit, No Help like a Woman's," Notes and Queries 34 (1987): 296–7.
Jowett, John. "Middleton's No Wit/Help like a Woman's at the Fortune." Renaissance Drama n.s. 22 (1991): 191–208.
Jowett, John, ed. No Wit/Help Like a Woman's; or, The Almanac. In Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works. Ed. Gary Taylor and John Lavagnino. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2007. 779–832.
Kok, Su Mei. "Middleton's No Wit, No Help Like a Woman's at Whitehall." Notes and Queries 61 (2014): 274–75.
Streitberger, W.R. Jacobean and Caroline Revels Accounts, 1603–1642. Malone Society Collections XIII. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 14 May 2021.