Devil and his Dame
Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)
F. 69 , Greg, 1, 121:
Lent vnto wm harton the 6 of maye 1600 in earneste
of a Boocke wch he wold calle the devell & his dame } vs
Greg notes, ‘the entry is cancelled and the sum was evidently refunded to Henslowe.’ (II. 125)
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, 2, 125)
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
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’.
It has 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, ‘perfectly clear from internal evidence that the play [in Gratiæ theatrales] belongs to the sixteenth century.’ (2, 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 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.’ (2, 213)
Fleay (1, 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).
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.’ (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.
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.
For What It's Worth
Site created and maintained by Simon Davies, University of Sussex; updated 8 June 2011.