Fault in Friendship, A

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"Young Johnson" and "Broome" (1623)

Historical Records

Dramatic Records of Henry Herbert

Herbert, Office-Book, quoted by George Chalmers.

A New Comedy, A Fault in Friendship, by Young Johnson and Broome alld 2 Oct. 1623, for Princes Company, 1 li.

Chalmers's comment on the above record.

These were The Son, and Servant of Ben Jonson.

(Both cited from Bawcutt, Control and Censorship, 145).

Theatrical Provenance

Prince's Company

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known

References to the Play

None known

Critical Commentary

Chalmers's comment about the identity of 'young Johnson' - almost certainly, it is now thought, a guess rather than a reporting of extra information - set the agenda for most early discussions of this enigmatic record. In early discussion, this reference was conflated with a mistaken interpretation of later uses of "Ben Jonson, Junior" as a pseudonym, and the putative son was therefore christened 'Ben'. There is no evidence that Jonson ever had such a son. Bentley comments: "It is conceivable, of course, that "Young Johnson" was an unknown son of Ben, but it is rather more likely that he was one of the scores of other London Johnsons" (3.69).

Chalmers's comment also proposes that 'Broome' was Richard Brome, Jonson's former manservant whose career as a writer of comedies is well documented in the 1630s. Matthew Steggle cautions that the identification is not certain, especially since this record is five years earlier than the first certain reference to Brome in connection with the theatre.

Bentley adds: 'The Prince's Company was one of the weaker troupes in London at this time and seems to have been performing at the Red Bull theatre' (3.69).

For What It's Worth

In 2007, Tom Cain presented evidence of the existence of one Bedford Jonson, quite possibly a hitherto unknown son of Ben Jonson. It is perhaps fortunate that Bedford was only seven at the time of the writing of A Fault in Friendship, and can therefore safely be discounted as the missing author.


Works Cited

Cain, Tom. "Mary and Bedford Jonson: A Note", Ben Jonson Journal 14 (2007): 78-87.

Steggle, Matthew. Richard Brome: Place and Politics on the Caroline Stage (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004).

Site created and maintained by Matthew Steggle 13:01, 26 November 2009 (UTC).