Wednesday, 6 January 2010

On this day...

Philip Henslowe, Elizabethan theatre entrepreneur, died in 1616 at the age of 66, only three months before the greatest theatrical name of the era, William Shakespeare. A shrewd businessman from the start, Henslowe quickly developed interests in areas such as dyeing, pawn-broking, money lending and property. Yet he is best known for his work in the theatre industry, most details of which have only been uncovered thanks to his diary, which contains records of payments to writers, box office takings and expensive costume purchases. After a infamous split with James Burbage, Henslowe became the partner of 'The Admiral's Men' and used his own venues, The Rose and The Fortune Theatre, for their performances. Whereas the diary denotes numerous plays by Shakespearian titles, such as 'Hamlet', 'Henry V' and 'Troilus and Cressida', no record of payment is made to Shakespeare. Instead payments were listed for 27 Elizabethan playwrights, including the names Ben Johnson, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton and John Webster. 

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