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COMMONPLACE book and papers of Sir John Harrington, the poet, with additions. Mostly autograph.
1609-
1610
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The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the manuscript and unpublished Materials: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

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Creator: Sir John Harrington
Title: COMMONPLACE book and papers of Sir John Harrington, the poet, with additions. Mostly autograph.
Date: 1609-1610
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Add. MS 27632, fol.43r-v
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Item Creator
Sir John Harrington
Item Title
COMMONPLACE book and papers of Sir John Harrington, the poet, with additions. Mostly autograph.
Item Date
1609-1610
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
Add MS 27632, fol. 43r

Add MS 27632, folio 43 verso

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Add MS 27632, folio 43 verso
Click image to enlarge

Institution Rights and Document Citation

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the manuscript and unpublished Materials: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Creator: Sir John Harrington
Title: COMMONPLACE book and papers of Sir John Harrington, the poet, with additions. Mostly autograph.
Date: 1609-1610
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Add. MS 27632, fol.43r-v
View online bibliographic record

Item Creator
Sir John Harrington
Item Title
COMMONPLACE book and papers of Sir John Harrington, the poet, with additions. Mostly autograph.
Item Date
1609-1610
Repository
The British Library, London, UK
Call Number
Add MS 27632, fol. 43v

Institution Rights and Document Citation

From the collections of: THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Terms of use
The British Library has graciously contributed the above images to Shakespeare Documented under a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark.

Copyright status of the manuscript and unpublished Materials: The 1988 Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (as amended) states that unpublished literary and artistic works remain in copyright in the UK until at least 31 December 2039. Therefore important parts of the library’s collection remain in copyright, including very old manuscripts. However for unpublished material created many centuries ago and in the public domain in most other countries, the Library believes this material to be very unlikely to offend anyone. As an institution whose role it is to support access to knowledge, we have therefore taken the decision to release certain digitised images technically still in copyright in the UK under the Public Domain Mark.

Copy-specific information
Creator: Sir John Harrington
Title: COMMONPLACE book and papers of Sir John Harrington, the poet, with additions. Mostly autograph.
Date: 1609-1610
Repository: The British Library, London, UK
Call number and opening: Add. MS 27632, fol.43r-v
View online bibliographic record

The poet and courtier Sir John Harington left behind tantalizing lists of plays written by Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Heywood, and others. Around 1609 he compiled two lists of play quartos almost certainly in his personal collection. Harington’s is the most extensive list of printed plays known to have been owned by any individual before Sir Edward Dering (1623).

The lists record the title, and sometimes date and author, of 168 plays, none of which is dated later than 1609. The first list appears to be of quartos destined for binding; the second, of quartos already bound into volumes numbering from eleven to thirteen quartos each. As Greg notes (p.1309): “In every instance the information could have been derived from the book itself, and in only two would it have been necessary to look beyond the title-page.” A separate piece of evidence shows, however, that Harington had independent knowledge concerning authorship. The Cambridge play Lingua was printed in 1607 without the name of its author. Harington owned a copy of the first edition, and caused it to be bound with eleven other quartos in the ninth volume of his collection. He does not name the author in his play-list; but elsewhere writes:

The combat of Lingua made by Thomas Tomkis of Trinity colledge in Cambridge. (Nelson, p. 853)

Harington’s attribution of this academic play is unquestionably accurate.

Of 168 plays in Harington’s two lists, some of which are duplicates, nineteen are supplied with the name (sometimes abbreviated) or the initials of the playwright (attribution and publication date supplied parenthetically):

List 1 (40 total)

K. Leir of Shakspear. (M. William Shak-speare, 1608)
Poetaster. Ben Iohnson. (By Ben. Iohnson, 1602)
Satiromastix. Tomas Decker. (By Thomas Dekker, 1602)

List 2 (128 total):

Seianus. Ben: Iohnson. (Written by Ben. Ionson, 1605)
Merry wyves of winsor. w. s.  (By William Shakespeare, 1602)
King Leyr. W. Sh. (M. William Shak-speare, 1608)
Glas of goverment. gaskin. (Done by George Gascoigne Esquier, 1575)
Dutch cortesan. marston. (Written by Iohn Marston, 1605)
Yorkshire Tragedy. w. s. (Written by W. Shakspeare, 1608)
Faythful shepardes. Iohn fletcher (By Iohn Fletcher undated; pre June 1610)
Westward hoe. Thomas Dekker Webster (Written by Tho: Decker, and Iohn Webster, 1607)
Sir Tho. wyat. Decker. (Written by Thomas Dickers, And Iobn Webster, 1607)
Cupids whirligig. E. S. (Epistle signed “E. S.”, 1607)
Puritan wyddow. w. S. (Written by W. S., 1607)
Devils. charter.  Bar. Barns. (Barnabe Barnes named in Dedication, 1607)
What you wil. Marston. (By Iohn Marston, 1607)
Mad world. T. M. (Composed by T. M., 1608)
Ye Rape of Lucress. Tho. heywood. (Written by Thomas Heywood, 1608)
Mulliasses. John Mason. (Written by Iohn Mason, 1610)

Harington treated attributions to Shakespeare in several ways. He listed his King Lear twice, and therefore may have owned two copies. He attributed “K. Leir” to “Shakespear” and “King Leyr” to “W. Sh.” 

Harington’s second list includes yet another dramatized version of the play, which he calls: “King Leire.: old” Presumably this is the play King Leire first recorded in 1593 and printed in 1605 (STC 15343; Greg 213), which is not by Shakespeare

Harington also attributed three plays to “W. S.”: “Merry wyves winsor,”  “Yorkshire Tragedy” and “Puritan wyddow.”

The first edition of The Merry Wives of Windsor was printed in 1602, and is attributed on its title page to “William Shakespeare.” Harington’s other two “W.S.” attributions are part of the Shakespeare Apocrypha. The first edition of A Yorkshire Tragedy (1608) includes an attribution to “W. Shakspeare,” (1608), and The Puritan Widow (1607) is attributed to “W. S.” (1607). Only in the case of King Lear did he go out of his way to identify the playwright as (William) Shakespeare rather than merely “W. S.”

In all, Harington owned some seventeen plays by Shakespeare (counting duplicates once only):

The Marchant of Venice.
Henry the fourth. 1
Henry the fourth. 2
Richard ye 3d:. tragedie.
Hamlet.
Henry the viijt.
Romeo and Iulyet.
The taming of a shrow. (also Taming of a shrow)
Moch adoe about nothing.
Loves labor lost.
Midsomer night dream.
Richard the 2.
Henry the fift. Pistol.
York and Lanc. j. part. [Henry VI, Part 1?]
Merry wyves winsor. w. s. (also Mery wyves of winsor)
King Leyr. W. Sh. (Also K. Leir of Shakspear)
Pericles. (also Perocles. pr. of Tyre)

In addition, Harington owned two plays which he may or may not have considered to have been by Shakespeare:

Puritan wyddow. w. S. (also Puritan widdow)
Yorkshire Tragedy. w. s. (also Yorkshyre tragedy)

Semi-diplomatic transcription

[This transcription is pending final vetting]

[Image 1: fol. 43r, first column] 

Names of Comedyes
13. A mad world my Masters.
13. What yow will.
12 The dumb Knight.
.y.12 Northward hoe. Stet
12 Perecles prince of Tyre.
12 Humor out of Breth.
12 Law tricks, or who wold:
13 The case is Altred. Stet.
12 Thre english Brothers
12 Lingua.
12 Family of love.
12 Your fyve gallants
12 Mustaffa tragedy.
12 Byroun tragedy.
12
____________________
____________________
          1 Tom: 13 plays
1 The Marchant of Venice
The London Prodigall
Tryall of Chyvalrie.
Everie man in his humour:
Eastward hoe:
Monsieur D’Olyve
Henry the fourth: 1:
Henry the fourth: 2
Richard ye: 3d: tragedie
King Leire: old:
Locryne.
Hamlet:
Seianus: Ben: Johnson.
____________________
____________________
           2 tome. xi. plays
2 All ffooles.
Gentleman Vsher.
The Queens Arcadia.
Sir: Giles Goosecapp.
Liberalitie & Prodigalitie
Good wife and bad.
The Malcontent
Lord Cromwell
Larum for London.
Pasquill & Katherin
Alphonso of Arragon
____________________
____________________

[Image 1: fol. 43r, second column]

Faythful sheppard
Mery wyves of winsor.
Looke about yow. 2
Edward the 3.
More foole.
K. Leir of Shakspear.
13 Evry woman in her humour
13y. Cupids whirlegigge
* The weakest [goeth] to [the] wall.
Cornelia Tragedy
13*Alexander vi papa. tragedy 2
13y Rovengers tragedy. 2
13+ Bussy D’Amboys.
____________________
____________________
3 Tome 9 plays
Scourge of Symony ^retorn from
Blurt master Constable.
Henry the viijt[h]
Everie man our of his humour
Fleyre
The fawn.
The Isle of gulls.
Romeo and Julyet.
Sophonisba.
4 Tome. 12 [plays]
The taming of a shrow.
Orlando ffoolioso.
Moch adoe about nothing.
Queen Elisabeth
Queen Elisabeth hobs tawnycoat.
Wil somer’s will.
Loves labor lost
Pastor fido.
Midsomer night dream.
Volpone the fox.
Spanish tragedy. Romeo.
Richard the .2.
____________________
____________________
Note yat Guiana ys sorted
with Virginia and Maundoul.
____________________
____________________

[Image 1: fol. 43r, third column]

Ferrex & Porrex quære
Belynus. Brennus.

Rape of Lucres.                            . 13
Puritan widdow.                             13
Muliasses the turk.                         13 .

Poetaster. Ben Johnson
Satiromastix. Thomas Deckker       2
Alexander. Campaspe.
Erl of Huntington.

Sir Thomas Wyat                            13
Glasse of goverment.
Grisild. q.
Yorkshyre tragody.
____________________
____________________

           5. Tome. 13 [plays]
Thre Ladyes of London.
Warning for fayr women
Looking glasse for London
Fayr mayd of Bristow.
Thre Lords of London.
Stukly.
Fortunatus.
Tamberlane
Tamberlane
Edward 4.
Edward 4.
Arden of feversham.
Doctor Faustus.
                6 Tome. 13.
Nobody.
Loves metamorphosis
Pedlers prophecy.
Doctor Dodypol
Musidorus.
Antonio & Melida.                     + .
Woman in the moon
Jeronimo. j. part.                        +
David and Bersabe
Arraignment of paris.
Blynde begger of Alexandria
Antonius.
Solimon and Perseda.

[Image 2: fol. 43v, first column, cont.]

                7 Tome.     13 [plays]
Lusty Juventus.
Cambyses.
Henry the fift. Pistol.
Supposes.
Marius and Scilla.
Two tragodyes in one.
Jack Straw. wat. tiler.
Mayds metamorphosis
Edward the first.
Menechmus.
Selimus. 1. part.
York and Lancaster j. part.
Cinthias revels.
____________________
____________________

8 Tome.
Downfal of Robert Earl [of] Huntington     l.
Alexander Campaspe.                                  F.
Merry wyves [of] winsor. w.s.                      G.
King Leyr. W. Sh.                                         L.
Glas of goverment. gaskin.                          N
Edward the third.                                          I.
Cornelia. tragedy                                          L
Dutch cortesan .Marston.                             H
Yorkshire Tragedy. W.S.                              D.
Pacient Grisild.                                            L.
Faythful shepardes. John fletcher                L.

[Image 2: fol. 43v, second column, cont.]

               12/9 Tome
The dumb knight
Northward hoe
Pericles.
Humor out of breth.
[W] Law tricks
Three English brothers
Lingua.
Famyly of love.
Your fyve gallants.
Mustaffa. .Q.
Biron 1.
Biroun 2.
                  11 Tome./ 11
Mother Bombee.                                           H
Whoor of Babylon Thomas dekker               K.
Cæsar and Pompey.                                       Q
Coblers prophesy.                                          G
Westward hoe. Thomas Dekker Webster       I
Taming of a shrow.                                        G
Pinner of Wakfeeld                                        G
Return from pernassus                                  H.
Phœnix.                                                          K
Michelmas term.                                            I
Willy beguild                                                 K.

[Image 2: fol. 43v, third column, cont.]

                   12. / 10 Tome.
Sir Thomas Wyat. Decker.                            G.
Cupids Whirligig. E.S.                                  L.
Puritan Wyddow. W.S.                                  H
Revengers tragedy.                                        I
Devils. Charter. Barnaby Barns.                   M
Bussy d Amboys.                                          I
What you wil. Marston.                                H
Mad world. Thomas Middleton .                  I.
Ye Rape of Lucress. Thomas Heywood.       K
Ye case ys altered.                                       . I.
Evry woman in [her] Humor.                        H.
Mulliasses. John Mason [for Marston?].       K

 

Written by Alan H. Nelson

Sources
F. J. Furnivall, “Sir John Harington’s Shakespeare Quartos,” Notes and Queries, 7:9 (May 1890): 382-3.

W. W. Greg, “The Harington Collection,” in A Bibliography of the English Printed Drama to the Restoration, 4 vols. (London: Bibliographical Society, 1934-59), 3:306-13.

Alan H. Nelson, ed., Cambridge, Records of Early English Drama, 2 vols. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1989).

Alan H. Nelson, "Shakespeare and the Bibliophiles: from the earliest years to 1616," in Owners, Annotators and the Signs of Reading, ed. Robin Myers, Michael Harris, and Giles Mandelbrote (London: British Library, 2005), 49-73.

Last updated March 2, 2017