Thomas Dekker (1598)

Historical Records

Payments to Playwrights (Henslowe's Diary)

F. 44 Greg, I, 83

lent vnto the company the 15 of Jenewary 1597 }
to bye a boocke of mr dicker called fayeton } iiijli
fower pownde I saye lent }

Payments for Apparel (Henslowe's Diary)

F. 44 Greg, I, 83

lent vnto Thomas dowton for the company }
to bye a sewte for phayeton & ij Rebates }
& j fardengalle the 26 of Jenewary 1598 the } iijli
some of three pownde I saye lent }

lent vnto Thomad dowton the 28 of Janewary }
1598 to bye a whitte satten dublette for } xxxxs
phayeton forty shyllenges I saye lent }

Payments for offering at court

F. 70v Greg, I, 124

Lent vnto Samwell Rowley the 14 of }
desembʒ 1600 to geue vnto thomas dickers } xs
for his paynes in fayeton some of }
............................... for the corte }

F. 71 Greg, I, 125

Lent vnto Samwell Rowley the 22 of }
decembʒ 1600 to geue vnto Thomas deckers } xxxs
for alterynge of fayton for the corte }

Henslowe's Inventory and Play List

The Enventary of all the aparell for my Lord Admiralles men, tacken the 10 of marche 1598. —Leaft above in the tier-house in the cheast. Greg, Henslowe Papers, 116

Item, ij leather anteckes cottes with basses, for Fayeton.

The Enventary tacken of all the properties for my Lord Admeralles men, the 10 of Marche 1598. Greg, Henslowe Papers, 116, 117

Item, viij lances, j payer of stayers for Fayeton. ...
Item, j hecfor for the playe of Faeton, the limes dead. ...
Item, j lyone skin; j beares skyne; & Faetones lymes, & Faeton charete; & Argosse heade.

The Enventorey of all the aparell of the Lord Admeralles men, taken the 13th of Marche 1598, as followeth: Greg, Henslowe Papers, 120

Item, j Faeytone sewte.

A Note of all suche bookes as belong to the Stocke, and such as I have bought since the 3d of March 1598 Greg, Henslowe Papers, 121


Theatrical Provenance

The Admiral's men had 'Phaeton' ready for the stage at the Rose by late January 1598 when they purchased a suit and doublet for the main character. They prepared it for performance at court two years later, when its playwright (Dekker) was paid to amend the script. Possibly still in performance since its 1598 debut, the play is more likely to have been in revival when Dekker prepared for performance before a royal audience. If it also played publicly in January 1600, its venue would have been the company's new playhouse, the Fortune.

Probable Genre(s)

Harbage tagged "Phaeton" as a classical legend, which the story of Phoebus's reckless son undoubtedly was. However, Matthew Steggle argues for a more complex generic design. Linking the Phaeton story with that of Jupiter and Io (with which it is co-joined in Ovid's Metamorphosis [see below]), he suspects a 'mixed-genre' text like Thomas Heywood's Ages plays. Steggle describes the effect of such mixture as a combination of tragedy, comedy, and bathos (72).

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

Ovid (Golding)

Steggle: Jupiter and Io

References to the Play

Information welcome.

Critical Commentary

Steggle begins his reconsideration of "Phaeton" by an explication of that item in inventory, "j hecfor ... the limes dead."

Dismissing suggestions that

For What It's Worth

Lumping: Malone did not comment on the likeness of "Phaeton" to extant plays, but Collier did. He suggested that Dekker's (now lost) January 1598 play "may have been the production to which [John] Ford afterwards contributed, to which Ford afterwards contributed," namely The Sun's Darling (1657). Fleay likewise considered "Phaeton" "palpably a refashioning by Ford" (BCED, I, 232]. Greg followed suit; considering Henslowe's payments to Dekker in 1598, Greg adds to the payments for "Phaeton" an earlier entry dated the 8th of January for which the company paid Dekker 20s "to by a bookes" unnamed (II, #124).

Additional Properties: The Foakes and Rickert edition of Henslowe's Diary (1961) tags "j crown with a sone" in Henslowe's property list dated 10 March 1598 as possibly being an item used in "Phaeton" (2002 ed, 321). Greg did not similarly tag it (Henslowe Papers), but Gurr did (232n).

Works Cited

Gurr, Andrew. Shakespeare's Opposites: The Admiral’s Company 1594-1625. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009.
Steggle, Matthew, "Philip Henslowe's Artificial Cow," Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 30 (2017):319-75.

Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson, Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 22 March 2018.