Bee, The

William Rowley (1624)

Historical Records

The Burn transcript of Herbert's Office-Book

The only record of this play is its Revels license, allowed by Sir Henry Herbert. Herbert's Office-book is lost, and survives only in various partial transcripts. In 1996, N. W. Bawcutt published new records deriving from a hitherto overlooked transcript, made by the nineteenth-century scholar Jacob Henry Burn, Collections Toward Forming a History of the Now Obsolete Master of the Revels. These records include the only known record of licensing of The Bee:

The Bee, a New play, written by Rowley. Alld 6 Sept.
1624 Ili. For the King's Company.

Burn Transcript 1467725 Bee sml.jpg

(Jacob Henry Burn, "Collection towards forming a history of the now obsolete office of the Master of the Revells", [1874], p.194. James Marshall and Marie-Louise Osborn Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Reproduced with permission). See also Bawcutt, Control and Censorship, entry 120.

Theatrical Provenance

Herbert's license attributes the play to the King's Men.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues


References to the Play


Critical Commentary

Bawcutt argues that the "Rowley" who wrote the play is more likely William than Samuel, since Rowley was performing with the King's Men at the time (155, n.120)

For What It's Worth

The word "bee" was sometimes used in the early modern era to refer to a busy worker (OED 11.b.); this is the only clue as to the play's subject matter.

Works Cited

Site created and maintained by David Nicol, Dalhousie University; updated 29 June, 2010. Image added 28 March 2016.