Italian Tragedy (Admiral's)

John Day (1600)

Historical Records


To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary

Fol. 67 (Greg I.117)

l s d Lent vnto John daye the 10 of Jenewary }
[87- 4- 0] 1599 in earnest of his Boocke called the }
etalyan tragedie of           the some of . . . } xxxs
at the apoyntment of Robart shawe . . . . }

Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's Men paid John Day £2 in January 1600 toward "The Italian Tragedy," which apparently was not finished under that title. The company was playing at the Rose in January, anticipating a move to the Fortune by the end of the year.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Fleay, BCED, in an entry on Robert Yarington and Two Lamentable Tragedies (2.285), added Day's "Italian Tragedy" to the narrative by which he (Fleay) identified the item named on the title page as "The other of a young childe murthered in a Wood by two Ruffians, with the consent of his Vnckle" as the lost "Orphans Tragedy" written by Henry Chettle (1599/1600). It was Fleay's opinion that Day's "Italian Tragedy" "may have been the same as "The Orphans Tragedy" (2.#1, p. 286).

Greg II repeated the possible identification Day's "The Italian Tragedy" with Chettle's "The Orphans Tragedy" without citing the connection with Fleay's opinion. Greg added that Day's play could have had no connection to a play by the same title ("The Italian Tragedy") written by Wentworth Smith and acquired by Worcester's Men in 1603 (#193, p. 210).

Knutson implies that "The Italian Tragedy" was not acquired and staged by the Admiral's men; she categorizes it among the titles in Henslowe's diary such as Chettle's "The Orphans Tragedy" that have no evidence of having been completed (p. 162).

Gurr suggests that Day's play was rewritten by Wentworth Smith and sold to Worcester's men in 1603 (#142, p. 249, n. 106).

Wiggins, Catalogue (#1233), ignoring the attempts by previous scholars to identify "The Italian Tragedy" with Chettle's or Smith's play (or Two Lamentable Tragedies), assigns it to the repertory of the Admiral's men in the spring of 1600.

For What It's Worth

Works Cited

Gurr, Andrew. ‘’Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral's Company 1594-1625’’. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Knutson, Roslyn L. “The Commercial Significance of the Payments for Playtexts in Henslowe’s Diary 1597-1603.” Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 6 (1991): 117-63.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 25 November 2009.