Hemidos and Thelay

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Historical Records

Book Trade Records

Stationers’ Register

The play was entered by Henry Bynneman in a list of entries dated from 22 July 1569 to 22 July 1570.

bynnyman     R[ecevyd] of henry bynnyman for his lycense    
for pryntinge of a boke intituled the iiijd
Ruffull tragedy of hemidos and thelay
by Ryc[hard] Robynson

(Liber A, fol. 190r, cf. Arber I. 411.)

Bynnmenan's entry was probably made around early March (Wiggins #484).

Printed Fragment

While no printed witness to the play is known to survive today, a fragment was apparently owned in the nineteenth century by Thomas Corser. In his 1851 edition of Robinson's A Golden Mirrour, Corser identifies the lost book as an octavo, of which he owned four leaves, and reproduces a short excerpt:

The Editor has in his possession a small fragment of this work, consisting of four leaves only, printed in 𝖇𝖑. 𝖑𝖊𝖙𝖙. [i.e. black letter], forming part of sheet L, in eights, the running title of which is “The tragedie of Hemydos and Thela.” It is in rhyme, and the characters introduced in this part are Thares and Cilo. As no other copy of this drama is known, the curious reader will perhaps pardon a short extract from this rarity.
“And see eche houre, how some full low
    aboue the cloudes doth ryse.
Yet sodaine ioy, doth neuer come,
    but sorrow hath bene before,
Els sorrow from ioy had not beene knowen,
    nor ioy from sorrowes lore.
Without experience who is wyse,
    and understanding too
Which giues the light, in things obscure,
    to proue them fals or true.
And specially with him that’s wyse
    and worldly trades doth know.
His measured head, in such affayres,
    the end doth wel foreshow.
Aduersitye, nor troublesome dayes,
    thoughe nigh the hart they sit,
Yet wysedome can, long raynes prouide,
    to ease the narrow byt.
Why thus you see, by dayly use
    the Heauens, the earth and wynde,
Doth varrye from their former state
    that nature hath assinde.
And suffereth dayly great outrage,
    and stormes that troubleth sore,
And yet in time, the furye slakes,
    and God doth rest restore.
Sometime the skyes, great fyerye flames
    unto the earth doth send.
With thondering clouds, and stormes of snowe,
    our Sũmers fruite to spend.
And raging rayne, that fluds makes wild
    the soyle to ouer flow,
With blustering blastes, that gagged makes
    the woods that greene did grow
And wynter cold, at whom doth shryncke
    all things that life doth beare.
That for to lyue, and scape the death
    almost they do dispayre.
And yet at last, comes Sommer fresh,
    and eche thing maketh glad.
That erst to lyue, this world within,
    both care and sorrow had.
Thus God doth giue, and also take,
    none can disspose but hee,
Whose iudgement from, and mighty dome,
    none quicke, nor dead can flee.
For why, you know, if fortune should
    stand alway in one stey,
The world it selfe, and all things els,
    you know would soone decay.”
(Corser vii–viii)

Theatrical Provenance

None known.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Information welcome.

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Chambers, who was apparently not aware of the printed fragment owned by Corser, included the title in his appendix of lost plays with the comment: "Probably not a play" (4.401).

Greg did not record the entry in BEPD, presumably agreeing with Chambers's assessment.

Wiggins included the title in Catalogue with the caveat that it was "possibly not a play." However, upon receiving being notified by Bradley D. Cook about the information in Corser's edition, he could confirm that "it definitely was a play" ("Where," 274).

For What It's Worth

Information welcome.

Works Cited

Corser, Thomas, ed. A Golden Mirrour by Richard Robinson. Manchester: Chetham Society, 1851
Wiggins, Martin. "Where to Find Lost Plays," in Lost Plays in Shakespeare’s England. Ed. David McInnis and Matthew Steggle. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 255–78.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 16 July 2021.