World Runs on Wheels, or All Fools but the Fool
To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary
Fol. 53 (Greg I.101)
ll - s - d Lent vnto thomas dowton the 22 of Janewary } 42-12-00 1598 to Leand vnto mr Chapman in earneste } vli of a Booke called the world Rones a wheeles } the some of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . }
Fol. 53v (Greg I.105)
Lent vnto mr Chapman the 13 of febreary } 1598 in part of payment of his boocke called } xxs the world Ronnes a wheeles . . . . . . . . . . . . }
Fol. 63 (Greg I.109)
Lent vnto Robart shawe the 2 of June 1599 } to paye vnto mr chapman for his Boocke } xxs called the worlde Runes a whelles some of }
Lent vnto wm Borne & Jewbey the 21 of } June 1599 to lend vnto mr chapman } xxxxs vpon his Boock called the world Ronnes } a whelles the some of . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . }
Lent vnto thomas dowton the 2 of July 1599 } to paye mr chapman in full payment for } xxxs his Boocke called the world Rones a wheeles } & now all foolles but the foole some of }
To playwrights in fragment of Philip Henslowe's diary
A receipt of payment to Chapman is preserved on a fragment at the Folger Shakespeare Library (MS X.d.319) that was apparently once part of Henslowe's diary. Greg suggested that the fragment may have come from the leaf or parts of two leaves that were removed from the diary between fols. 29 and 32 (31-32). Presumably the receipt was signed by Chapman, but the signature was cut out, perhaps by a collector. The other side of the fragment contains a receipt of payment to Thomas Dekker dated 18 January 1598.
- 22o. Januarij. 1598.
- [Receaved by mee George Chapman gentleman of Mr]
- [Phillip Hynchelow the Somme of three powndes in]
- [part of payment of a Comedy Called The World ronnes]
- [vpon Wheeles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . iijli]
- [2⅛ x 1 inch cut out]
- Tho: Dekker
- Thomas Downton
- (qtd. Foakes 268, with modifications)
|Folger Shakespeare Library MS X.d.319|
(CC BY-SA 4.0 licence; click image to view in LUNA)
- The Admiral's men anticipated a new play called "The World Runs on Wheels" in January of 1599, and by the time the script was completed it had become "All Fools but the Fool," which they probably introduced at the Rose when their autumn season began, perhaps following the Feast Day of Saints Simon and Jude (October 28).
- Comedy Harbage
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
- One clue to the initial narrative concept is the proverbial title, "World Runs on Wheels," which implies a story about everything running "on track," so to speak; however, there isn't an obvious rollover to the new title about fools, which implies considerable foolery given the preponderance of real fools to the one clever one.
References to the Play
- None known.
- Malone lists "The World Runs vpon Wheels," by Chapman, without further comment (p. 308). Collier, pointing out first that Malone had entered the play on the wrong date (1597/8 instead of 1598/9), observes that the title phrase is "proverbial," and notes a 1623 tract entitled "The World Runs on Wheels" (p. 143, n.1). On the 1599 entry of 2 July, Collier considers whether Chapman meant to change the title from "Wheels" to "All Fools" and implies that the All Fools printed in 1605 could be this play (p. 154, n.1).
- Fleay.BCED identifies "The World Runs on Wheels" as All Fools. For him, the July 1599 entry is evidence that Chapman had a "habit of changing" titles. He considers it an "absolute certainty" that "in this instance" Chapman revised the "Admiral's play for the boys at Blackfriars" (I.#6, p. 57). In the entry for All Fools Fleay points out that it is "of course, a remodelled form of The World runs on Wheels of July 1599"; he credits the publication of All Fools to Chapman's fear "that the Admiral's men would publish the earlier and inferior version" (1.p. 58 #10).
- Greg II (2/#165, p. 200) offers less enthusiasm than Collier for identifying "The World runs on Wheels" with All Fools by calling attention to the Taylor tract of 1623 and providing a fuller title: "The world runnes on Wheeles: Or Oddes betwixt Cars and Coaches."
- Gurr (in a footnote [#93] to Appendix #121, which reprints Henslowe entries for "The World runs on Wheels") avers that "Wheels/All Fools" is "unlikely to be the same as the All Fools that Chapman sold to the Blackfriars Boys in 1604, and published in 1605." Yet he cannot quite let go of a connection. He thinks that Chapman "could have re-activated [the title, "All Fools"] for the Blackfriars in 1604," adding also that the 1605 "does read more like a boy company play than an Admiral's."
- Wiggins, Catalogue #1189 has a single entry for "The World runs on Wheels" and "All Fools but the Fool." He summarizes the tortured logic of previous scholars that lumped this Henslowe entry with Chapman's All Fools (#1448) and offers the most straightforward and plausible explanation for Henslowe's entry, namely, that the play underwent a name change in its own time from the "Wheels" title to the "Fools" one.
For What It's Worth
Greg, W. W. "Fragments from Henslowe's Diary." Collections IV. Oxford: Malone Society, 1956. 27–32.