Blacksmith's Daughter, The

Anon. (1578)

Historical Records

Stephen Gosson, The School of Abuse (1579), 23 (EEBO-TCP, open access):

And as some of their players are farre from abuse: so some of their playes are without rebuke... The Blacke Smiths daughter, and Catilins Conspiracies... usually brought in at the Theatre: the first contayning the trechery of Turkes, the honourable bountye of a noble minde, the shining of vertue in distress.

Theatrical Provenance

Leiceister's (?) (Harbage) at the Theater (Gosson).

Probable Genre(s)

Heroical Romance (Harbage).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

See Critical Commentary below.

References to the Play

Only Gosson, above.

Critical Commentary

Samuel C. Chew discusses the play briefly in The Crescent and the Rose in the context of another lost play, Turkish Mahomet and Hiren the Fair Greek:

The Alexander-Campaspe romance had, in fact, probably not been absent from Bandello's mind when he told the story of Mahomet and Irene. What he did was to substitute for Alexander's magnanimity the current European conception of Ottoman cruelty and lust. There may have been a nearer resemblance to the Alexander story in another lost play, The Blacksmith's Daugher. This play was one of six commended by Stephen Gosson as 'without rebuke' and it is described by him as 'conteyning the trechery of Turkes, the honourable bountye of a noble minde, and the shining of virtue in distresse.' Professor Schelling says that it was a 'comedy of travel,' a forerunner of the 'breezy adventure plays' soon to come into vogue; but how he knows this it is impossible to say. Another guess may be offered: that this lost play showed the blacksmith's daughter stolen by Turkish pirates (the treachery); presented to the Sultan and refusing his solicitations (virtue shining in distress); and magnanimously restored by the Sultan to her father (the bounty of a noble mind). The story was not necessarily about Mahomet II. Another Sultan---Solyman the Magnificent--was involved, according to Christian legend, in love-affairs with Christian ladies; and Europe often praised him for his magnanimity. (482-83).

Linking it with Rowley/Day/Wilkins' The Travels of the Three English Brothers, Peele's The Battle of Alcazar, and Anon. Captain Thomas Stukeley, Louis Wann cites The Blacksmith's Daughter as the first in a subset of Oriental tragicomedies or "plays of travel and adventure":

It may be noticed, however, that without exception all of the plays dealing entirely with Orientals are either pure tragedies or conqueror plays. Those into which Orientals and Occidentals alike enter are for the most part tragi-comedies or plays of travel and adventure. These last form an interesting group. The first in point of time is The Blacksmith's Daughter... (169).

See also Wiggins #647.

For What It's Worth

In the context of The Two Noble Kinsmen, Douglas Bruster thought that:

Three plays and entertainments written well before The Two Noble Kinsmen help to reveal how traditional the Jailer's Daughter would have seemed: The Painter's Daughter (1576), The Blacksmith's Daughter (1578), and Fair Em, the Miller's Daughter (1590). While only the last of these plays has survived, their titles speak to the potential nostalgia connected with the dramatic "type" of the Jailer's Daughter. All these titles identify the heroines with their fathers' occupations. (p. 292).

Works Cited

Bruster, Douglas. "The Jailer's Daughter and the Politics of Madwomen's Language." Shakespeare Quarterly 46.3 (1995): 277-300. Print. JSTOR
Chew, Samuel C. The Crescent and The Rose: Islam and England During the Renaissance. NY: OUP, 1937. Print.
Gosson, Stephen. The School of Abuse. Printed at London: for Thomas Woodcocke, 1579. (EEBO-TCP, open access)
Wann, Louis. "The Oriental in Elizabethan Drama." Modern Philology 12.7 (1915): 423-47. Print. JSTOR

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 26 Feb 2015.