Bristow Tragedy

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Day, John (1602)
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Historical Records

Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)


F. 105 (Greg I, 165)

Lent at the a poyntment of Samewell }
Rowlye vnto John daye the 4 of maye 1602 }
in earneste of a play called bristo tragedi } xxs
as maye a pere the some of }
written by hime sellfe


F. 106 (Greg I, 167)

pd vnto John daye at the apoyntmente }
of wwm Jube & the Reste of the companye for }
A Booke called Bristo tragedi the 23 of maij } xxxxs
1602 the some of }
written by hime sellfe


dd at the apoyntment of Thomas towne }
the 28 of maye 1602 vnto John daye in }
fulle payment for his playe written by him } xxxxs
sellfe called briso tragedie the some of }


Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's men bought "Bristow Tragedy" after their move to the Fortune playhouse; its likely debut there was shortly after its purchase in May.

Probable Genre(s)

Tragedy

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues


Several misidentifications have been offered for the narrative matter of this play, but no one has found a story about the town of Bristol (or a man named Bristow) that seems plausible as the source for "Bristow Tragedy." Greg II rejects John Payne Collier's suggestion that the play was the now-anonymous Fair Maid of Bristow (Collier, Diary, 220, n2), rejecting thus also the acceptance of that identification by William Hazlitt and James Halliwell-Phillipps. Greg does not have a suggestion of his own, nor does Martin Wiggins, Catalogue #1327. Neither Greg nor Wiggins finds persuasive the possibility that "Baxter's Tragedy" is a title mistakenly written for "Bristow Tragedy."

However, that confusion of Bristo/Baxter was perpetuated by Foakes in the headnote to Article 37 of Henslowe's papers (see below) with the following comment: "Baxter's Tragedy is not otherwise known but may possibly, as [William] Warner suggested, be identified with Day's Bristol Tragedy, which figures on ff. 105, 106" (Henslowe's Diary, 296). The list of plays in which "Baxter's Tragedy" occurs is part of an acquittance for £3 from William Playstowe to Philip Henslowe on 4 August 1602 (Greg, Papers, 58-9). The document reads as follows:

Receved of mr Henslowe the iiijth of Agust 1602 }
for one monthes paye due vnto my mr mr Edmund} iijli
Tylney vppon the xxxjth day of July last past}
the som of iijli J say R[d] }
p[er] mei Will Playstowe


bookes owinge for /5/

baxters tragedy
Tobias Comedy
Jepha Judg of Jsrael & the Cardinall
loue parts frendshipp


References to the Play


None known.

Critical Commentary


Gurr, like Foakes, perpetuates the identification of "Baxter's Tragedy" (in the Playstowe acquittance) as a listing of "Bristol Tragedy." Gurr explains that the "Bristol" play was the "most likely" to be "sent to the Master of the Revels" along with the other plays listed. He follows the suggestion offered by Greg that it was Malone's interlined hand that identified "the Cardinall" in the Playstowe list with Cardinal Wolsey, leading him to identify the play itself as one of those featuring Wolsey in the Admiral's repertory (264, n127).

For What It's Worth


Information welcome.

Works Cited


Collier, John Payne, ed. The Diary of Philip Henslowe, from 1591 to 1609. London: Shakespeare Society, 1845.
Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.




Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 10 June 2019.