Guy of Warwick, Life and Death of
John Taylor, The pennyles pilgrimage (1618)
The Water Poet, John Taylor, reported having seen a play by this name on 14 October 1618 at the Maidenhead Inn, Islington:
And so I stole backe againe to Islington, to the signe of the Mayden-head, staying till Wednesday that my friendes came to meete mee, who knewe no other, but that Wednesday was my first comming: where with all loue I was entertained with much good cheere: and after Supper wee had a play of the life and death of Guy of Warwicke, plaied by the Right Honourable the Earle of Darbie his men. (The pennyles pilgrimage, sig.G2v)
15 January 1619 [i.e. 1620] (S.R.I, 3.662)
|John Trundle||Entred for his copie vnder the handes of Master TAUERNOR and both|
|the wardens A Play Called the life and Death of GUY of Warwicke|
|written by JOHN DAY and THOMAS DECKER . . . Vjd|
Unknown. If the play registered in 1620 is identical to the play seen by John Taylor in 1618, the Earl of Derby's men were performing it.
Tragedy (?) (Harbage)
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
Ronald S. Crane provides a neat summary of the Guy of Warwick legend in his discussion of its popularity from the middle ages to the Romantic period:
...how the son of the steward of Warwick, in order to win the hand of Phelis, the daughter of his Earl, had twice gone to seek honor and adventures on the Continent; how, finally successful in his ambition and married to his lady, he had left her almost immediately after and had set out for the Holy Land in the guise of a palmer, to expiate in the service of God the wrongs he had done in the service of Phelis; and how, learning on his return that England was in the power of the Danes and the King besieged in Winchester, he had slain the Danish champion Colbrond, and then, still unknown to Phelis, had retired to spend his last days in a hermit's cave near Warwick. (127)
References to the Play
Bullen, in his Introduction to The Works of John Day, mentions Halliwell-Phillips's suggestion that this lost play might be identical to the extant Guy Earl of Warwick printed in 1661, but doubts "whether either of the authors, if they had tried, could have written so execrably" (11).
Chambers (ES, 3.289) implicitly agrees with Bullen's assessment that printed Guy of Warwick play is "too bad to be Day and Dekker's Life and Death of Guy of Warwick".
Harbage ("Sparrow from Stratford"), arguing that “[t]he Guy Earl of Warwick of 1661, is, I believe, a composition of ca. 1592-1593, cut for itinerant performance but otherwise little altered” (144), suggests that Day and Dekker “may well have reworked a piece written by Dekker at the beginning of his career” (149). He concludes that in the 1661 text we have the extant original (from the 1590s) and that the text registered in 1620 was a revision that has now been lost (149). Part of his conjecture about a 1590s Guy of Warwick play involves recognition of how it would relate to the repertories of companies at the Rose, including the "Huon of Bordeaux" play of 1593 and the "Godfrey of Boulogne, Parts 1 and 2" plays of c.1594 (144).
For What It's Worth
Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated 10 March 2016.