Fair Spanish Captive, The

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Historical Records

"The Fair Spanish Captive: a Trage-Comedy" appears in a list of "Books in the Press and Now Printing" which were advertised by the printer Nathaniel Brook in E. Phillips, The New World of English Words (1658). This is one of at least ten known advertisements featuring this title. A fuller extract from the list runs as follows:

Books in the Presse, and ready for Printing.

1· THE Scales of Commerce and Trade: by T. Wilsford.
2. Geometry demonstrated by Lines and Numbers; from thence, Astronomy, Cosmography, and Navigation proved and delineated by the Doctrine of Plaine and Spherical Triangles: by T. Wilsford.
3. The English Annals, from the Invasion made by Julius Cesar to these times: by T. Wilsford.
4. The Fool transformed: a Comedy.
5. The History of Lewis the eleventh King of France: a Trage-Comedy.
6. The chaste woman against her will: a Comedy.
7. The Tooth-drawer: a Comedy.
8. Honour in the end: a Comedy.
9. Tell Tale: a Comedy.
10. The History of Donquixiot, or the Knight of the ill favoured face: a Comedy.

11. The fair Spanish Captive: a Trage-Comedy.

(Philips, The New World of English Words, 2S4r).

The advertisement runs in similar form in at least ten other publications (found by EEBO-TCP) and is still running in 1662.

Theatrical Provenance


Probable Genre(s)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Cervantes, Novelas Ejemplares?

References to the Play

None known

Critical Commentary

"The advertisements must have been at least premature, for there is no evidence that the play was ever printed, though one would assume that Brook had a manuscript. Nothing else is known of a play of the title" (Bentley, JCS, 5.1327).

Greg, BPED 1000-1 notes that this is an odd collection of eight plays, none of which Brook is known actually to have printed: "While at this date it is no doubt still possible, however improbable, that an edition of a particular play should have entirely disappeared, to suppose that this happened to a whole series of plays would be obviously absurd". There is indeed no reason to suppose that any of these pieces, if they ever did get into the press, actually got out again".

Of the eight plays, a couple can plausibly be identified as pre-1642 dramas. A play called Honour in the End was licensed for the Palsgrave's Company on 21 May 1624. A play called the Telltale survives in an incomplete manuscript now at Dulwich College.

Greg, BPED 1000-1 comments that the title sounds similar to the lost play The Conqueror's Custom of the Fair Prisoner. Bentley (JCS, 5.1327) warns that "though this sub-title is similar to the one Brook advertised, there is no reason to assume that they represent the same play".

For What It's Worth

Works Cited