Devil and his Dame

Haughton, William (c.1600)

Historical Records


To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 69 (Greg, 1, 121)

NB: Henslowe used various signs to cancel entries, one of which was the bracket (see Foakes, p. lx); the cancellations did not necessarily mean that the item so bracketed had been expunged from company business in every sense.

[Lent vnto wm harton the 6 of maye 1600 in earneste }
of a Boocke wch he wold calle the devell & his dame   } vs]

Theatrical Provenance

If "the devell & his dame" as recorded by Henslowe is indeed the same play as that printed in 1662 as Grim The Collier (see Critical Commentary below), the playwright was probably William Haughton, and the company was probably the Admiral’s Men.

The play ‘may have been written for the company though not paid for by Henslowe.’ (Greg II (p. 125)

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The primary sources for the main plot of Grim The Collier of Croyden; or, The Devil and his Dame are Tell-Trothes New-yeares Gift Beeing Robin Good-fellowes newes out of those Countries, where inhabites neither Charity nor honesty (1593) and Machiavelli's novella on Belphegor; see Baillie, 179-80, and Thompson. Part of the plot is also derived from the story of Malbecco in Spenser's Faerie Queene (III. ix, x).

References to the Play

Gratiæ theatrales

A play bearing the title Grim The Collier of Croyden; or, The Devil and his Dame, supposedly by ‘I. T.’, appears in R. B.’s Gratiæ theatrales, or, A choice ternary of English plays composed upon especial occasions by several ingenious persons (1662), alongside Thorny Abbey, or The London Maid and The Marriage-Broker, or The Pander. The title-page states that all three plays were ‘Never before published’.

Critical Commentary

One play or two?

Scholars have long been debated whether or not Grim The Collier of Croyden; or, The Devil and his Dame, printed in 1662, is the same play as that referred to by Henslowe in 1600, and whether or not Haughton is its author. If it is the same, The Devil and his Dame is not a lost play but an extant one.

‘It is’ writes Greg II, ‘perfectly clear from internal evidence that the play [in Gratiæ theatrales] belongs to the sixteenth century.’ (#204, p. 213) See also the dates of the sources, above, and Baillie, 179-80; the latter has identified Grim The Collier of Croyden; or, The Devil and his Dame as a major source for the anonymous comedy Wily Begvilde (1606) (180). Greg notes, ‘the entry is cancelled and the sum was evidently refunded to Henslowe.’ (II, p.125) Greg II refutes the assertion that any play with this title was printed earlier than 1662. He continues, ‘Haughton’s solitary advance of 5s., which seems to have been repaid, is not much evidence for his authorship of the extant play, though of course he may quite well have written it for the company even though the record of payment is not found.’ (#204, p. 213)

Fleay, BCED (1, #9, p.273) was an early advocate of the idea that the plays are one and the same, citing the reference within the play itself (as published in Gratiæ theatrales) that The Devil and his Dame was its original title: it is referred to in Act 5 as ‘This Play of ours, The Devil and his Dame’ (54). An early twentieth-century editor of the play, however, suggested that the play had been heavily adapted by its Restoration editor (Farmer, Five Anonymous Plays, 315).

Kathman writes that the play would have been one of the first to feature the Devil as a central character, and that it may have inspired other Devil plays which followed.


The question of Haughton’s authorship ultimately rests on whether or not one accepts the conclusions of those who have carried out stylistic analysis of the play, primarily via comparison with Haughton's only extant sole-authored play, Englishmen for my Money (written in 1598).

An early stylistic analysis was carried out by Sykes, who writes: ‘Apart from the initials affixed to the title on the publication of the play in 1662, all the evidence we have points to the conclusion that Grim, the Collier of Croydon is entitled to rank equally with Englishmen for my Money as entirely the work of Haughton's pen.’ (p. 253)

The most recent consideration of the origin and authorship of Grim the Collier is by Baillie, who emphatically argues, based on the dating of the sources and analysis of stylistic features such as structure, spelling, characterization, frequency of function-words etc., in comparison with Englishmen for my Money, that Grim The Collier of Croyden; or, The Devil and his Dame dates from around 1600, and that Haughton is its author. Baillie edited the most recent modern edition of the play, in an edition of Gratiæ theatrales, published in 1984.

For What It's Worth

Information welcome.

Works Cited

Anon. A Pleasant Comedie, Called Wily Begvilde. London: H. L. for Clement Knight, 1606.
Anon. Tell-Trothes New-yeares Gift Beeing Robin Good-fellowes newes out of those Countries, where inhabites neither Charity nor honesty. London: Robert Bourne, 1593.
Baillie, W. M. “The Date and Authorship of “Grim the Collier of Croydon””. Modern Philology 76.2 (1978): 179-184.
Baillie, W. M. (ed.) A Choice Ternary of English Plays. Binghamton, NY: Medieval & Renaissance Texts & Studies, 1984.
D., R. Gratiæ Theatrales, or A choice Ternary of English Plays. London: R. D., 1662.
Farmer, J. S. (ed.) Grim the Collier of Croydon – 1662. [s. l.] The Tudor Facsimile Texts, 1912.
Farmer, J. S. (ed.) Five Anonymous Plays. London. Early English Drama Society, 1908 (repr. in facs. by Barnes & Noble, 1966).
Kathman, D. “Haughton, William (d. 1605).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Online ed. Ed. L. Goldman. Oxford: OUP.
Spenser, E. The Faerie Queene. London: John Wolfe for William Ponsonby, 1590.
Sykes, H. D. “The Authorship of ‘Grim, the Collier of Croydon’”. The Modern Language Review 14.3 (1919):245-253.
Thompson, D. W. “Belphegor in Grim the Collier and Riche’s Farewell”. Modern Language Notes 50.2 (1935): 99-102.

Site created and maintained by Simon Davies, University of Sussex; updated 8 June 2011.