Performance Records (Henslowe's Diary)
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There is no doubt that a play Henslowe called "Osric" belonged to the Admiral's men during the late winter of 1597, but there is also no evidence to mark its introduction to the stage and identify its initial company owners. This title disappears from theater records after its brief appearance in February 1597.
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
No one has identified an historical or literary character who is persuasively the Osric for whom the play was named; consequently no source material has been suggested as the basis of the dramatic narrative. Wiggins considers several Anglo-Saxon kings, but acknowledges that "the relative dearth of specific narrative about them" is a problem (Catalogue, #867)
References to the Play
Without a plausible historical or literary character named "Osric," scholars have been inclined to identify the play with another title. Fleay suggested A Knack to Know a Knave, which contains a character named Osric (BCED, 2.301 [#147]). Gurr, following threads spun by Greg II, #101, #265, lumps it with another lost play, "Marshall Osric," written for Worcester's company in 1602 by Thomas Heywood and Wentworth Smith with the conjecture that the latter was "a rewrite" of the 1597 Admiral's play (p. 227, #64, n.63.
For What It's Worth
As Wiggins points out, "Osric" belongs to the set of apparently old plays brought to the stage briefly by the Admiral's men without a hint of their previous stage lives (Catalogue, #785, #953, #973, and #1022). As he observes ruefully, "no single hypothesis [on their provenance] will necessarily cover them all" (#867).
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; 19 November 2019.