New World's Tragedy, The

Anon. (1595)

Historical Records

Henslowe’s Diary

F.13 (Greg I.25): ye 17 of septmb[r] 1595 ne . . R[d] at the worldes tragedy . . . . . . iijll vs
ye 25 of septmb[r] 1595 R[d] at the worldes tragedy . . . . . . xxxviijs
ye 7 of octob[r] 1595 R[d] at the worldes tragedy . . . . . . xxxjs
ye 22 of octob[r] 1595 R[d] at the new worldes tragedy . . . xxxiijjs
ye 3 of novemb[r] 1595 R[d] at the new worldes tragedy . . . xxixs
F.14 (Greg I.27): ye 27 of novemb[r] 1595 R[d] at the newes wordles tragedy . . xviijs
ye 12 of desemb[r] 1595 R[d] at the new worldes tragedy . . . xxxjs vjd
ye 22 of desemb[r] 1595 R[d] at the newe worldes tragedie . . xxs
ye 8 of Jenewary 1595 R[d] at new worldes tragedie . . . . . xviijs
F.14v (Greg I.28): ye 25 of Jenewary 1595------------ R[d] at the new worldes tragedy . . . xiiijs
F.15v (Greg I.30): ye 27 of aprell 1596 R[d] at new worldes tragedy . . . . . xxixs

Theatrical Provenance

Played as a new play at the Rose on 17 September 1595 by the Admiral’s.

Probable Genre(s)

Tragedy (Harbage)

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

None known.

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Cawley suggestively notes that “[t]he Drake-Hawkins expedition of 1595 suffered every kind of bad luck” (both men died during this fateful voyage to the West Indies) and that a “non-extant play, New World’s Tragedy … was acted at the Rose in that year” (289). But Drake did not die until early 1596, so it is unclear what aspects of this expedition the play might have dramatised by 17 September 1595.

Ramsaram assumes that “[t]he lost plays—New World’s Tragedy, 1595, and The Conquest of the West Indies, 1601, must surely have given a prominent place to Drake’s adventures” (99). Ramsaram offers no evidence to support this speculation, and indeed the example of Drake’s immortalisation in verse that Ramsaram does produce seems to contradict this inference of a lead role in lost plays. Ramsaram cites a verse panegyric by Oxford scholar Charles Fitz-Geffrey (Sir Francis Drake. His Honorable Life’s Commendation … 1596) which “[i]n addition to addressing Spenser, Daniel and Drayton by name … had sought to interest the dramatists of his day” in the adventures of Drake (101). But Fitz-Geffrey’s very offer to the “quaint tragedians of our time” of “a modern subject for your wits” (qtd. in Ramsaram 101) surely ought to imply that Drake’s adventures had not yet been dramatised by 1596.

Parr speculates that The New World’s Tragedy was “perhaps inspired by the lost colony on Roanoke Island in Virginia or by the much-trumpeted atrocities of the Spanish further south” (3).

For What It’s Worth

(Information Needed)


New World, colony, Drake, Hawkins, travel.

Works Cited

Cawley, Robert Ralston. The Voyagers and Elizabethan Drama. Boston: MLA, 1938. Print.

Parr, Anthony (ed). Introduction. Three Renaissance Travel Plays. Manchester: Manchester UP, c1995; rpt. 1999. Print. The Revels Plays Companion Library.

Ramsaram, J. A. “Sir Francis Drake in Contemporary Verse.” Notes & Queries 202 (1957): 99-101. Print.

Site created and maintained by David McInnis, University of Melbourne; updated, 04 September 2009.