Robin Hood's Pennyworths
To playwrights in Philip Henslowe's diary
- Fol. 70v (Greg, I. 124)
Lent vnto Samwell Rowley the 20 of desembʒ } 1600 to lend vnto wm harton in earneste } xxs of a Boocke called Roben hoodes penerthes }
- Fol. 71 (Greg, I. 125)
Lent vnto wlliam hawghton the 27 of } desembʒ 1600 in earneste of his Boocke } xs called Roben hoodees penerthes }
Lent vnto wm harvghton the 4 of Jenewary } 1600 in þt of payment of a Boocke called } xs Roben hoodes penerth some of }
paid at the a poyntment of wm Birde [to] } vnto wm harton for his playe of Roben } xxxxs hoodes penerthe the 13 of Janewary 1600 }
William Haughton wrote "Robin Hood's Pennyworths" for the Admiral's players in their first full year at the Fortune playhouse.
Harbage labeled the play a comedy, but qualified the label with a question mark. It is hard to imagine what else the play might have been, given its titular connection to aphorisms using the phrase, "Robin Hood's pennyworths." Further, the play shared a family relationship with other "Robin Hood" plays, including the two-part Downfall/Death of Robert, Earl of Huntington, which the Admiral's company had purchased from Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle in February and March 1598. An earlier play, also lost, called "Robin Hood and Little John" was in the hands of stationers by 14 May 1594. Its title further designates it as a "pastorall plesant commedie."
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
According to The Oxford Dictionary of English Proverbs, the phrase "Robin Hood's pennyworth" is synonymous with "bargains." Put another way, it is "a thing or quantity sold at a robber's price, i.e., far below the real value" (p. 681).
References to the Play
For What It's Worth
longevity of phrase
Site created and maintained by Roslyn L. Knutson,Professor Emerita, University of Arkansas at Little Rock; updated 30 May 2015.