Philenzo and Hippolyta

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Historical Records

Book Trade Records

Stationers' Register

On 29 June 1660, the printer Humphrey Moseley entered in the Stationers' Register a list of twenty-six plays, eleven of which were attributed to Philip Massinger, including:

Philenzo & Hypollita. a TragiComedy
(Liber F, p. 196; cf. S. R. II, 2:271)

Warburton's List

The play is also listed (with the attribution to Massinger) among the manuscripts that Warburton claimed had been destroyed by his cook:

Philenzo & Hipolito A C. by Phill. Massenger
(British Library, MS Lansdowne 807, fol. 1r)

For more see, Warburon's List.

Theatrical Provenance


Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Information welcome.

References to the Play

Extant Manuscript?

John Payne Collier, in a list of "Additional Notes and Corrections" to his edition of Henslowe's diary, wrote:

We have been informed […] that Massinger's play of Philenzo and Hippolyto has been recovered in MS., having been found among the Conway Papers. (xxxii)

Critical Commentary

Relationship with "Philipo and Hippolito"

Collier, in his edition of Henslowe's diary, noted resemblance between the titles of the play attributed to Massinger and that of "Philipo and Hippolito," performed by the Admiral's Men in 1594, and another parallel between the "Antonio and Vallia" (assigned to Massinger in the same Moseley entry) and "Antony and Vallia," performed by the Admiral's Men in 1594–95 (54–55n). The similarity led him to conclude that "Massinger, in all probability, revived and altered them from the state in which they were represented in 1594 and 1595: he was of course not old enough to have been their author at that date" (55n). Fleay grouped "Philenzo and Hippolita" with "Virgin Martyr" and "Antonio and Vallia" as three plays altered from Dekker that Massinger prepared for the Revels Company at the Bull from 1619 to 1623 (BCED, 1:213). Greg was receptive to Collier's link for both "Philenzo and Hippolito" and "Antonio and Vallia," both of which "appear to be revisions of old plays performed by the Admiral's men" (II, 257).

Bentley, however, was more cautious about the link: "There is no way of knowing if this piece [in Henslowe's diary] had anything to do with the lost Massinger play" (JCS, 4:808). Wiggins, in his discussion of the Admiral's play (Catalogue, #959), dismissed "previous wild conjectures associating this play with others which have vaguely similar titles," including Massinger's.

Collier's Note

Scholars have been inclined to dismiss the accuracy of Collier's statement in 1845 that a manuscript copy of the play was extant among the Conway Papers. Greg wrote: "since nothing more has been heard of it, the statement, if not a 'mystification', may have been based on a misunderstanding" (BEPD, 2:1003). As did Bentley: "no further record of the manuscript is known, and Collier must have been mistaken" (4:808). Wiggins too shares their opinion (#959): "No such MS has been found in any of the repositories to which the Conway papers are known to have been dispersed (the National Archives, the British Library, Warwickshire County Record Office, and University College, London), and it is rather more likely that Collier was either misinformed or (true to his reputation) mendaciously mischievous."

However, while Edwards and Gibson note Bentley's dismissal in their edition of Massinger, they register their own ambivalence: "it is a curious mistake to make." (1:xxvii). Smith, in his extensive study of the Conway Papers, was more receptive to Collier's suggestion. Tracking the history and circulation of the Conway Papers, including their dispersal into multiple archives, Smith notes that several items recorded in the nineteenth century have since gone missing, and the untraceability of the manuscript today does not offer proof that Collier was mistaken. More specifically, the idea of a manuscript copy of a Massinger play being kept in the Conway papers is "certainly an intriguing possibility, because Timothy Raylor has identified Massinger as a member of the Order of the Fancy, a coterie patronized by the second Viscount Conway" (160). In contrast to Greg, Bentley, and Wiggins's skepticism of Collier's reliability, Smith offers a more optimistic assessment: "Collier in fact only claimed to be repeating someone else’s discovery, […] so the document may yet be discovered" (161).

For What It's Worth

Extant Manuscript?

The idea that a manuscript copy of a play by Massinger should have been discovered among the Conway Papers in 1845 is perhaps not as unlikely as some scholars have assumed. As Smith has shown, given the literary interests and connections of Edward, 2nd Viscount Conway (1594–1655), the Conway Papers constitute one of the richest sources for early modern literary manuscripts, especially for the poetry of John Donne. Conway was also a prodigious reader of drama, and a catalogue of his library at Brookhill House, Lisnegarvey, recorded "no fewer than 349 'English Playes' published between 1560 and 1640—a subcollection representing more than half the native drama before 1641 now known to us by title and text" (Freeman and Grinke 17).

On the subject of "Philenzo and Hippolyto," Smith cites the fact that Massinger was apparently "a member of the Order of the Fancy, a coterie patronized by the second Viscount Conway" that also included Sir Kenelm Digby, Sir John Suckling, and perhaps most significantly, the comic actor Tom Pollard (Smith 160; Raylor 85–97). As a comedian with the King’s Company, Pollard is known to have acted in several plays by Massinger, taking on the roles of Holderus and a servant in Sir John van Olden Barnavelt (1619), Lamia and Stephanos in The Roman Actor (1626), Ubaldo in The Picture (1629), Berecinthius in Believe as You List (1631) as well as unknown roles in The Spanish Curate (1622) and "The Spanish Viceroy" (lost, 1624) (Bentley 2:532–535; Astington 210). (If a manuscript of "Philenzo and Hippolyto" had ended up in Conway’s possession—whether from Massinger, Pollard, or another source—this would have presumably been a different manuscript than that held by Moseley in 1660: one might conjecture that Moseley perhaps acquired his from a playing company, while Conway's may have been a presentation manuscript, although this need not necessarily have been the case.)

On the subject of Collier's note, Smith observes that in 1845 the Conway Papers were in the possession of John Wilson Croker, and that Croker may have been the one to provide Collier with the information (161). I would propose an alternative (if confusingly named) candidate: the Irish antiquarian Thomas Crofton Croker. This Croker (no relation with John) had experience working with the Conway Papers, including transcribing certain manuscripts in the collection; some of these transcriptions of letters from the 1630s are currently preserved among the State Papers (Smith 143, 157; CSP Domestic 1637 293; CSP Domestic 1638–39 378). Croker was well known to Collier, with whom he served as one of the twelve founding committee members of the Percy Society, from 1840 to 1852, during which time Collier was working on his edition of Henslowe's diary. Most tellingly, Croker had communicated with Collier about another manuscript by Massinger, the holograph playbook of Believe as You List, which he had received from Samuel Beltz on 26 April 1844 and, because his own interests were not chiefly in early modern drama, he sent the manuscript to Collier for his inspection. However, as Croker would later write, Collier was "unable fluently to read" Massinger's hand: "Indeed it was this evident incompetence on Mr. Collier's part that decided me to undertake the laborious task of editorship myself, instead of transferring it to that gentleman, as it was my intention to have done" ("Statement," 9). Editing Believe as You List was not a priority for Croker, who "devote[d] such portions of what I could fairly call my leisure time for four years to reading and copying" the manuscript (10); his edition was eventually published by the Percy Society in 1849. (On the acrimonious exchange between Croker and Collier upon the publication of this edition, see Hultin and Ober; Freeman and Freeman 451–54.) It could be that the communication between Croker and Collier about the Massinger manuscript, which took place as Collier was finishing his edition of Henslowe's diary (he was working on the "Additional Notes and Corrections" in January 1845 [Freeman and Freeman 364]), led Croker to mention the manuscript of "Philenzo and Hippolyto" in a collection with which he was familiar.

While the absence of the manuscript today has led scholars to doubt the accuracy of Collier's claim, Smith explains that the Conway Papers' transferals of ownership and dispersal during the nineteenth century resulted in several items from the collection, such as Sir Henry Wotton’s Venetian journals (c. 1604–21), becoming untraceable. John Wilson Croker himself apparently lent out items from the collection: before he acquired the Conway Papers in 1824, he "examined them 'to the extent of personally though very superficially looking over & examining a great number of them', entrusting 'several of the more curious which were in antiquated writing' to an unidentified palaeographer," who (Smith conjectures) may have been Thomas Crofton Croker (Smith 143, quoting a letter from Croker to Sir George Grey, 1 August 1857). But whether or not he was the paleographer who was entrusted with items before 1824, he is also named by Smith as a potential researcher "who may also have taken some [of the papers] for his own purposes" (Smith 157). Could the manuscript of "Philenzo and Hippolyto" have been among them? Perhaps a clue might be found in the Catalogue of the Greater Part of the Library of the Late Thomas Crofton Croker, which went up for auction on December 18, 1854. Any LPD contributors with access to this catalogue are invited to shed light on the matter.

Works Cited

Astington, John H. Actors and Acting in Shakespeare's Time: The Art of Stage Playing. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
Croker, T. Crofton. "Statement Made to the Council of the Percy Society, 5th April, 1849." Remarks on an Article Inserted in the Papers of the Shakespeare Society. [London, 1849.] 4–15.
Edwards, Philip, and Colin Gibson, eds. The Plays and Poems of Philip Massinger. 5 vols. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1976.
Freeman, Arthur, and Janet Ing Freeman. John Payne Collier: Scholarship and Forgery in the Nineteenth Century. 2 vols. New Haven: Yale UP, 2004.
Freeman, Arthur, and Paul Grinke. "Four New Shakespeare Quartos? Viscount Conway's Lost English Plays." TLS (5 April 2002): 17–18.
Hultin, Neil C. and Warren U. Ober. "John Payne Collier, Thomas Crofton Croker, and the Hoby Epitaph." Neophilologus 73 (1989): 142–49.
Raylor, Timothy. Cavaliers, Clubs, and Literary Culture: Sir John Mennes, James Smith, and the Order of the Fancy. Newark: U of Delaware P, 1994.
Smith, Daniel Starza. John Donne and the Conway Papers: Patronage and Manuscript Circulation in the Early Seventeenth Century. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.

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Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura; Last updated by Misha Teramura on 21 December 2022 18:10:41