Man in the Moon Drinks Claret

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Anon. (1621 or earlier)

Historical Records

From a Lord Chamberlain's warrant book, now Inner Temple Library MS. 515, No. 7.

6° Marcii. A warrant for allowance of xxtie Marks for two plaies to the Princes Servaunts the one 27° Decembris 1621, called the man in the moone drinks Clarett the other the 29 of the same Moneth called the Witch of Edmonton, and for a reward for bothe xx nobles.

(Murray, 2:193; see also Bentley, 5:1370)

Theatrical Provenance

Prince Charles's (I) Men, at court.

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

The date is not certain. G.E. Bentley notes that the play need not have been new when performed at court in 1621 and "may be one of [the Prince's Men's] earlier plays of which we have no record until 1621" (5:1370).

A ballad in the Roxburghe collection may be connected with this play. Bentley (6:135-6) points out that an undated ballad is entitled "The Man in the Moon Drinks Clarret. As it was lately sung at the Curtain, Holy-Well" (Chappell 2:256-8). Since the Prince's Men were using the Curtain theatre in the early 1620s, Bentley proposes that "the ballad was sung by the Prince's men in the course of Curtain performances of the play" (6:136). He acknowledges that it might have been sung there after a premiere at court, but finds a "first performance at the Curtain" to be "at least as likely" (6:136).

On the likely subject matter, Bentley suggests that since the ballad is about "riotous drinkers", the play may have been "a roistering, possibly a satiric" one (6:136).

For What It's Worth

The phrase "The man in the moon drinks claret" was proverbial; in addition to the ballad noted above, it appears in another ballad in the Roxburghe collection which was sung to the same tune, "New Mad Tom of Bedlam, or the Man in the Moon Drinks Clarret, with Powder-Beef, Turnip and Carret" (2:259-61), as well as in a 1639 jest-book (Conceits, 65).

Works Cited

Murray, John Tucker. English Dramatic Companies: 1558-1642. 2 vols. 1910; repr. New York: Russell and Russell, 1963.

Site created and maintained by David Nicol, Dalhousie University; updated 9 August 2011.