House is Haunted

Anon. (1619)

Historical Records

Cotton MS. Tiberius E. X.

Marcham p14 Haunted.jpeg
Excerpt from p14 of Marcham (out of copyright)

In 1925 Frank Marcham transcribed and published the contents of the manuscript named above. It contains the History of Richard III by the Master of the Revels, Sir George Buck, written on what appears to be “Revels Office waste,” sometime after 1617 (Chambers, RES 479). Amongst the papers are “four lists of plays, bare lists without any indication of their objects,” which may or may not be all in Buck’s hand (Chambers, RES 479). Chambers believes it “most likely that the lists represent plays which the Revels Office had at some time or times under consideration for performance at court” (RES 484).

The list designated ‘D’ by Chambers (f.247) contains “the House is Haunte[d]”.

Theatrical Provenance

Unknown Co. at Ct. (Harbage); possibly King’s (Bentley V.1352).

Probable Genre(s)

Unknown (Harbage); comedy (?); domestic (?)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues


References to the Play

Only the Revels Office list (see ‘Historical Records’ above).

Critical Commentary

Analysing the Revels Office list, Chambers declares that this play is “Not otherwise known” (RES 482).

Bentley entertains the possibility that it may have been a King’s play:

This slightly mutilated title—presumably only the ‘d’ of the last word is missing—is known only from the Revels list. The particular list in which it occurs seems to be in the hand of a copyist and book-keeper of the King’s company … and this fact might suggest that The House Is Haunted was a King’s men’s play, but unfortunately other plays in this list in his hand, like All’s Lost by Lust and A Fair Quarrel, belonged to other companies. (V.1352)

For What It's Worth

An extremely conjectural point to consider in relation to this lost play is the fact that Plautus wrote a comedy, The Mostellaria, in which a “young man, in his father’s absence, makes the paternal mansion a scene of noisy and extravagant revelry. In the midst of it the father returns, and, in order to prevent discovery, a slave persuades him that the house is haunted. When he discovers the trick he is very angry, but ultimately pardons both his son and the slave” (Browne 103). Heywood is known to have used this Plautus play as a source for the subplot of his The English Traveller (>1624) (See Heywood 14).

Works Cited

Browne, Robert William. A History of Roman Classical Literature. Philadelphia, 1857. Print.
Chambers, E. K. (review author), “The King’s Office of the Revels, 1610-1622. Fragments of Documents in the Department of Manuscripts, British Museum, transcribed by FRANK MARCHAM, with a Preface by J. P. GILSON. London: Frank Marcham, 53, Chalk Farm Road, N.W.1. Pp. 50, including 19 Collotype Plates. £2. 2s. 1925.” The Review of English Studies, 1.4 (1925): 479-84. Print.
Heywood, Thomas. Three Marriage Plays. ed. Paul Merchant. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1996. Print. THe Revels Plays Companion Library.
Marcham, Frank. The King's Office of the Revels 1610-1622: Fragments of Documents in the Department of Manuscripts, British Museum. London: F. Marcham, 1925. Print.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated, 24 Feb 2015.