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A Companion to Henslowe's Diary by Neil Carson

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By Neil Carson

Henslowe's 'diary' is a special resource of knowledge in regards to the daily working of the Elizabethan repertory theatre. Philip Henslowe, a theatrical entrepreneur, saved files of his monetary dealings with London businesses and actors from 1592-1604. The diary itself is hard to decipher. Neil Carson's research relies on a way more thorough correlation of Henslowe's entries than has been tried sooner than, breaking down into transparent tabular shape the most goods of source of revenue and expenditure and drawing conclusions concerning the administration approaches of the firms, the pro relationships of actors and playwrights and the ways that performs have been written, rehearsed and programmed. past hypothesis has disregarded Henslowe himself as ignorant, disorderly and greedy. Carson indicates him to were a benign and effective businessman whose keep watch over over the actors' specialist actions used to be less large than has frequently been meant.

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Henslowe recorded that 'I heayred [hired] Thomas hearne . . to searve me ij yeares in the qualetie of playenge . . & not to departe frome my companey tyll this ij yeares be eanded' (f. 233). It may be that the wording reflects the uncertainty of the time (following the Privy Council's proclamation to close the theatres in the summer of 1597), but there is little doubt about how Henslowe viewed his relationship to Hearne. By 6 August the political situation may have been clearer, for on that date Henslowe recorded that 'I bownd Richard Jones .

In November 1599 Robert Wilson gave a receipt to Henslowe for £8 for 2 Henry Richmond which was 'sold to him &c his Company' (f. 65)^ although the pronoun might equally well apply to Robert Shaa, who authorized the payment. William Birde sold a play called Jugurth with the proviso that 'if you dislike He repaye it back' (f. 67v). Here the allusion must be to Henslowe, and the implication is that he had T H E PLAYERS 33 some say in the choice of scripts. A similar implication underlies the entry of 28 February 1599, in which Henslowe recorded that Henry Porter gave 'his faythfulle promysse that I shold haue alle the boockes wch he writte' (f.

One possibility is that the money was being held in trust by Henslowe and like Humphrey Jeffes' half-share (for which Henslowe also rendered a 'Juste acownte'), it was 'payd backe agayne vnto the companey' (f. 36). Perhaps the new Admiral's-Pembroke's Men insisted on a new method of gathering and dividing the receipts. But what that method was we cannot say. Not unlikely, the players began collecting the money from the outer doors themselves, and possibly turned over one-half of their gallery takings to Henslowe to be held in trust for some now indeterminable purpose.

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