Parricide, The / Revenge for Honour

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The Parricide: Anon. (1624). In earlier accounts, misattributed to George Chapman.
Revenge for Honour: Henry Glapthorne (after 1637 and probably 1639-1640). In earlier accounts, misattributed to George Chapman.


Historical Records

Herbert, Office-Book

1624, 27 May. For the Prince's Company; A Play, called, The Parricide.
(Herbert, 28).

1624, 27 May. The Parricide, containing 13 sheets and a half, allowed for the Princes Company 27 May 1624.
(Bawcutt, Control and Censorship 103).

Marriott's List (1653)

In late 1653, the printer Richard Marriott entered a group of twenty-one plays on the Stationers' Register. Among the titles is:

The Paraside or Revenge for honor by Henry Glapthorne


Revenge for Honour. A tragedie, By George Chapman. London: Richard Marriot, 1654.

(Bentley, 4.489-90, notes later printings which repeat the same information).

Theatrical Provenance

The Parricide: Prince Charles's Men, 1624. Prince Charles's Men are thought to have been playing at the Red Bull at this date.
Revenge for Honour: Queen Henrietta's Men at the Salisbury Court Theatre, ?1639-40.

Probable Genre(s)

The Parricide: Tragedy.
Revenge for Honour: Tragedy.

Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

The Parricide: None known.
Revenge for Honour: is extant.

Possible references to the Play

None known

Critical Commentary

First and foremost, the question is whether one is dealing here with records of one play, or two. The entry on the very problematic Marriott's List (1653) tended to lead earlier scholars into assuming that all these records refer to a single, extant, play, whereas it is now accepted that two different plays are involved. For clarity, here, I refer to the earlier, lost play as The Parricide and the later, extant, play as Revenge for Honour.

The thing which cuts the Gordian knot here is the fact, discovered in 1937 by J. H. Walter, that the main source of Revenge for Honour is a pamphlet, The Life and Death of Mahomet, the Conquest of Spain together with the Rysing and Ruin of the Sarazen Empire, which was not published until 1637. Hence the Chapman attribution made by Richard Marriott, although much discussed in earlier criticism, is untenable, as Chapman was dead by the time that the pamphlet was published and would not have been able to use it as a source. Equally untenable, for the same reason, is any identification between Revenge for Honour and the play licensed by the Prince's Men in 1624. Yet a third casualty of the discovery is F. T. Bowers' suggestion that The Parricide/Revenge for Honour could be identified as the offensive play involving a father-murder performed by the Prince's Men in 1619-20. (Bentley, 4.489-93, summarizes these debates; for discussion of the 1619-20 play adduced by Bowers, see A King with His Two Sons). Hence, further discussion can be split into two subsections.

Revenge for Honour

Although, being extant, it is strictly speaking outside the scope of a database of lost plays, Revenge for Honour itself is worth brief discussion because it is one of the three surviving plays from Marriott's List, and hence potentially a clue to the eighteen lost plays on it. A brief summary of the state of scholarship on Revenge for Honour follows:

Revenge for Honour is a Moorish-set tragedy revolving around the murder of a father by his son. In his entry of 1653, John Marriott had attributed Revenge for Honour to the prolific Caroline playwright Henry Glapthorne. Since 1937, this attribution has generally been accepted, as it certainly reads like Glapthorne's other work. As noted above, its main source is a pamphlet first published in 1637. Further possible refinements of the date include a possible indebtedness to Suckling's Aglaura, reported by Shaver, and an internal reference in the play to the suppression of monopolies (Bentley, 4.489-93). These seem to suggest the years 1639-40. As for its company attribution: Revenge for Honour was printed with a dedication by William Cartwright the younger and Curtis Greville, both of whom worked with Richard Heton at Salisbury Court through the 1630s (Bentley, 1.404-5, 451). On the strength of that, it might be identified as a play belonging to the Heton-era Queen Henrietta's Men at Salisbury Court.

The Parricide

Firstly, it is worth noting that Herbert's lost record of The Parricide can now be studied in two independent transcriptions (recorded above), thanks to N.W. Bawcutt's rediscovery of the Burn transcript from Herbert's Office-Book. Secondly, almost nothing is known of the play. Nicol offers a detailed chronological reconstruction of the known repertory of Prince Charles's Men within which this play fits.

For what it's worth

Given its title, it is hard to see The Parricide as having been anything other than a tragedy. The frame of reference, of course, need not have been Moorish like Revenge for Honour: an EEBO search for "parricide", which returns 1,759 hits, demonstrates something of the wide range of possible father-murders that the play could have dramatized.

Works Cited

Bowers, Fredson Thayer. "The Date of Revenge for Honour," Modern Language Notes, 52. 3 (Mar., 1937), pp. 192-196
Nicol, David. "The Repertory of Prince Charles’s (I) Company, 1608-1625". Early Theatre 9.2 (2006).
Shaver, Chester Linn. " The Date of Revenge for Honour", Modern Language Notes 53. 2 (Feb., 1938), pp. 96-98
Walter, J. H. "Revenge for Honour: Date, Authorship and Sources", The Review of English Studies Vol. 13, No. 52 (Oct., 1937), pp. 425-437

Page written and maintained by Matthew Steggle, Sheffield Hallam University; last updated 29 September 2011.

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