Hymen's Holiday or Cupid's Vagaries

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William Rowley (>1612)

Historical Records

Revels Accounts

By the Duck of yorks Players. Shroue: munday: A Play Called Himens Haliday.

(Revels Accounts, 24 February, 1612; see Streitberger, 48-9).

Master of the Revels

"Received of Biston, for an ould play called Hymen's Holliday, newly revived at their house, being a play given unto him for my use, this 15 Aug. 1633, 3l. 0.0. Received of him for some alterations in it, 1l. 0.0."

(Herbert 35; see also Bentley 5.1023; Bawcutt, entry 277).

"On Monday night the 16 of December, 1633, at Whitehall was acted before the King and Queen, Hymens Holliday or Cupids Fegarys, an ould play of Rowleys. Likte."

(Herbert 53; see also Bentley 5.1023; Bawcutt, entry 277).

Lord Chamberlain's list

"Cupid's Vagaries" appears in a list of plays protected by the Lord Chamberlain for the King and Queen's Young Company

(Bentley 1.330-1).

Theatrical Provenance

The play is first recorded as having been performed at court in 1612 by the Duke of York's Men (later called Prince Charles's (I) Men).

The 1633 revival noted by Herbert would have been performed by Christopher Beeston's then company, Queen Henrietta's Men, who were then playing at the Phoenix in Drury Lane. The "alterations" made to the old play would likely have been made by James Shirley, the regular dramatist at the Phoenix (Bentley 5.1024).

What did Herbert mean when he wrote in 1633 that the play was "given unto him [Beeston] for my use"? G.E. Bentley says this implies that Herbert "somehow owned and controlled the manuscript" and charged Beeston £3 to revive it for "a benefit performance like those the King's company gave for him" (5.1025). Tiffany Stern notes that "the pound Herbert then charges Beeston for reviewing the text appears to cover not just approving Beeston's alterations to the play but also effectively his 'purchase' of it." She also notes that "Beeston was obscurely indebted to Herbert for this entire transaction, for later that same day he bought Herbert's wife 'a payre of gloves, that cost him at least twenty shillings'" (312n13, quoting Bawcutt 181)


The author is most likely William, not Samuel Rowley, since William was a sharer in the Duke of York's Men (Bentley 5.1023).

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

None known.

For What It's Worth

All that can be guessed about this play's subject matter is that it was likely a comedy about love and marriage.

Works Cited

  • Streitberger, W.R. Jacobean and Caroline Revels Accounts, 1603-1642. Malone Society Collections XIII. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.
  • Stern, Tiffany. Documents of Performance in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.

Site created and maintained by David Nicol, Dalhousie University; updated 22 May, 2012.