To playwrights (perhaps a player) in Philip Henslowe's diary
- Fol. 44v (Greg I.84)
Layd owt vnto Robarte lee the 22 of febreary 1598 } for a boocke called the myller some of . . . . . . . . . . . } xxs
Presumably Henslowe was buying "The Miller" for the Admiral's men to offer at the Rose. However, there is no documentary evidence of its performance there.
Given its price, "The Miller" was an old piece. Any previous performance history is guesswork based on Robert Lee and his career. Lee (also "Leigh") first appears in theatrical records in the plot of "Dead Man's Fortune." However, due to the absence of a date and company affiliation for that plot (1590-92?), theater historians do not know what sort of marker it is for Lee's early career. Eccles calculates his birth date as 1569, based on Lee's dating himself as 54 in 1623 (p. 296). He has been identified as the man who signed a bond with John Alleyn and Thomas Goodale in 1593 (Nungezer, p. 235). By 1598 he may have belonged to Worcester's men (Nungezer, p. 235). He is not associated with the authorship and/or sale of any other play.
Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues
- The title is the only clue to its subject matter, and that title suggests the cultural associations with millers (none good). Wiggins, Catalogue #1104 offers two possibilities: dishonesty and promiscuity.
References to the Play
- None known.
Malone has no opinion on "The Miller" (p. 308), nor does Collier (p. 119). Fleay, BCED lists "The Miller" twice, claiming the play was "bought of" but "not written by" Robert Lee (2.307, #206); yet also suggesting that Lee "may have been the author" of the play (2.370). Greg II locates Lee with the Chamberlain's men at the time of the sale, notes the small amount of the payment, and opines that "there is no reason to suppose [Lee] was the author" (p. 191, #128).
Wiggins #1104) suggests several interpretations of the small fee received by Robert Lee, two of which do assume that the item was a play, the third of which offers the possibility that it was a jig.
For What It's Worth