Doublet, Breeches, and Shirt

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Peter Heylin (1620 [1619])

Historical Records

Bodleian Library ms. Wood E.4, fol. 23 (Heylyn's memoirs), quoted by Elliott-Nelson, REED Oxford I.440:

f. 23

November 23. Mr Stonehouse (magdalen college) chosen Lord & solemnely inaugurated in ye Christmas Holidaies, in which pomp I personated ye Duke of Helicon, the 1st peere of his principalitie & in Ianuary following, my shew of doublet, breeches & shirt was presented before them.

Theatrical Provenance

Produced at Magdalen College, Oxford, January 1620 (1619).

Probable Genre(s)

Christmas Show (Wagonheim rev. Harbage)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues


References to the Play

Only Heylin's memoirs, cited above.

Critical Commentary

Linda Woodbridge briefly refers to this play in the context of women's fashion, and particularly John Chamberlain's letters. Chamberlain wrote on 25 January 1620 that the King himself had urged the Bishop of London to have the church preach "against the insolencie of our women, and theyre wearing of brode brimd hats, pointed dublets, theyre haire cut short or shorne..." (etc.), and then again on February 12 that "to helpe the matter forward the players have likewise taken them to taske" (qtd. in Woodbridge 143-44). Although she notes that "extant evidence does not suggest a sudden increase in literary barbs aimed at man-clothed women" (144), Woodbridge does note in a footnote that:

A piece suggestively entitled Doublet, Breeches, and Shirt was acted at Magdalen College, Oxford, in January of that year. (150n)

Bentley deduces that:

The first part of the statement [from Heylin's memoirs, above] indicates Heylyn's part in the Magdalen Christmas festivities, apparently similar to the better-known celebrations of the season at the Inns of Court. His show appears to have been a later part of the same festivities. One would deduce that it was somewhat like the anonymous Christmas Messe (q.v.), which was performed in the same Christmas season of 1619, apparently in a college hall at Cambridge. (4.551)

For What It's Worth

(Information welcome)

Works Cited

Alfred Harbage, Sylvia S. Wagonheim, Samuel Schoenbaum. Annals of English Drama, 975-1700. London: Routledge, 1989. Print.
REED Oxford 1.
Linda Woodbridge. Women and the English Renaissance: Literature and the Nature of Womankind, 1540-1620. Sussex: The Harvester Press, 1984. Print.

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