Thomas Goffe


Thomas Goffe, clergyman, poet and playwright, is known principally for the three plays he wrote during his years at Christ Church, Oxford: namely The Raging Turke, or, Bajazet the Second, The Couragious Turke, or, Amurath the First, and The Tragedy of Orestes, all posthumously published, in 1631, 1632, and 1633 respectively. Contemporary manuscript copies of the first two plays survive (GoT 9, GoT 11), as well as Goffe's own autograph part for the title-role of Amurath in the second of these plays, performed at Christ Church in 1618 (*GoT 8). This actor's part is accompanied not only by a poem by Goffe concerning the loss of his voice in that production (GoT 4), but also by another part in his hand, that for the role of Polypragmaticus, played by him in February 1617/18 in the Christ Church production of Robert Burton's play Philosophaster (BuR 4).

A few other poems attributed to Goffe survive in manuscript copies (GoT 1-3, *GoT 7) and do not seem to have been as yet gathered for publication.

Three signatures of Goffe occur in his college disbursements books for 1619-23 (GoT 12-14), to which may be added two examples of his handwriting in later years which were discovered and reproduced in facsimile by David Carnegie (GoT 15-16). The somewhat rugged cursive italic hand in these obviously authentic documents does differ considerably from the more upright rounded hand found in the earlier dramatic manuscripts attributed to Goffe, but the similarities seem to be sufficient for identification.

Peter Beal