Sneaky O. Possum
2013-10-12 16:26:36 UTC
William Shakespeare accept the evidence (i.e., the entries in Henslowe's
accounts and the allusions in Nashe and Greene) that some or all of the
plays in the /Henry VI/ trilogy existed by 1592. But why would plays
written by Marlowe before May 1593 have been attributed to Shakespeare and
included in the 1623 folio? No one ever published /Faustus/, /Edward II/,
or any of Marlowe's generally-acknowledged works under Shakespeare's name.
Another puzzle: if Marlowe wrote the /Henry VI/ plays before May 1593, why
were the 1594 quarto of 2 Henry VI and the 1595 octavo of 3 Henry VI
published anonymously? The only generally-acknowledged Marlowe work to be
published anonymously was /Tamburlaine/, which first appeared in octavo in
1590 - and /Tamburlaine/ was neither included in the First Folio nor ever
attributed to Shakespeare - although Edward Phillips ascribed it to Thomas
Newton in the 1675 /Theatrum Poetarum/.
Although publishers did not commonly assign authors' names to plays in the
early 1590s, in 1594 editions of /Edward II/ and /Dido, Queen of Carthage/
were published and credited to "Chri. Marlow Gent." and "Christopher
Marlowe, and Thomas Nash, Gent.", respectively. It seems reasonable to
suppose that the publishers broke with tradition in the hope that the
widely-accepted reports of Marlowe's gruesome and premature demise had made
his name a marketable commodity. If Marlowe wrote the /Henry VI/ plays,
their publishers either didn't know it or didn't think it would help sell
product. Curious, that.