Philip Massinger


Edwards & Gibson

The Plays and Poems of Philip Massinger, ed. Philip Edwards and Colin Gibson, 5 vols (Oxford, 1976).


Autograph Manuscripts, Signatures and Corrections

Several autograph manuscripts of Massinger's have survived. The most important is the complete autograph manuscript of his play Believe as You List (*MsP 14). A printed exemplum of The Duke of Milan (1623) contains autograph corrections (*MsP 17) and autograph presentation verses to Sir Francis Foljambe (*MsP 9). Six other printed exempla of Massinger's plays contain autograph corrections (*MsP 15, *MsP 18, *MsP 20, *MsP 32, *MsP 34, MsP 37). These six plays were bound together with unannotated exempla of The Fatal Dowry (1632) and The Maid of Honour (1632), probably for Massinger himself, but the collection was broken up and the plays individually rebound by Edmund Gosse (1849-1928). The collection, known as the ‘Harbord volume’ since it was sold from the Harbord Library at Gunton, Norfolk, in 1853, is described in the following works: in A.H. Cruickshank, Philip Massinger (Oxford, 1920), pp. 215-23; in W.W. Greg, ‘More Massinger Corrections’, The Library, 4th Ser. 5 (1925), 59-91, reprinted in Greg, Collected Papers (Oxford, 1966), pp. 120-48; in A.H. Cruickshank, ‘Massinger Corrections’, The Library, 4th Ser. 5 (1925), 175-9; in J.E. Gray, ‘Still More Massinger Corrections’, The Library, 5th Ser. 5 (1951), 132-9; in A.K. McIlwraith, ‘The Manuscript Corrections in Massinger's Plays’, The Library, 5th Ser. 6 (1952), 213-16; and in Edwards & Gibson, I, xxxii-xxxiii.

Massinger's signature appears on the presentation manuscript of his consolatory verses to the Earl of Pembroke and Montgomery (*MsP 8). His signature is also found on five documents among the Henslowe-Alleyn Papers at Dulwich College (MsP 39-41). One other ‘signature’ — the inscription ‘Philip Massinger his booke’ on a printed exemplum of Phineas Fletcher, Sicelides (Cambridge, 1631) in the Dyce Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum — is a suspected forgery: see Edwards & Gibson, I, xliv.

Printed Works with Anonymous Corrections, Manuscript Copies, and a War of the Theatres

Printed exempla of two of Massinger's plays with interesting manuscript alterations made by unidentified hands have been collated in Edwards & Gibson and are included in the entries (MsP 19, MsP 38). In addition, there is a similarly corrected exemplum of The Maid of Honour (MsP 28), and an exemplum of The Renegado contains an original proof sheet (MsP 35). Some printed exempla of The City Madam (London, 1658), not given separate entries below, also have what is probably a printer's manuscript emendation of the word ‘Boman’ to ‘Roman’ on sig. Ilr (IV, ii, 113): e.g. volumes in the Bodleian (Malone Q 23 and Malone 185 (4)); the British Library (Ashley 1128); University of Chicago; Worcester College, Oxford (Plays 4.78); and one with the bookplate of Sir Thomas Hanmer formerly owned by Dobell. These volumes are discussed in Edwards & Gibson, IV, 7, and in A.K. McIlwraith, ‘Pen-and-ink Corrections in Books of the Seventeenth Century’, RES, 7 (1931), 204-7.

Other items recorded below include the important scribal copy of The Parliament of Love (MsP 31), various manuscript copies of poems by Massinger, and some extracts and songs from the plays in early miscellanies. Items MsP 1 and MsP 7, which came to light after the publication of Edwards and Gibson, are of special interest in being verses that throw light on a theatrical war in which Massinger is known to have been engaged in 1630. The Trumbull manuscript in which Massinger's Prologue to The Maid of Honour appears (MsP 7) also contains an anonymous attack on this prologue headed ‘To my honored ffriend Mr Thomas Carew at Sr: Richard Leightons house in Boswell Court’, and beginning ‘Soe the rude Carpenter or Mason may’, an attack which provoked in turn Massinger's fierce retaliation, A Charme for a Libeller (MsP 1). It is speculated that the author of the poem that so provoked Massinger was probably William Davenant (see DaW 79.5).

The Dramatic Canon

The canon of Massinger's plays accepted in the Index is based on Edwards & Gibson. For various other plays in which Massinger probably had a hand see ‘Dramatic Works in the Traditional Beaumont and Fletcher Canon’ (B&F 1-211) below and the discussion of the canon in Bentley, IV, 749-830.

There exist various later adaptations and prompt-books of the plays (particularly of A New Way to Pay Old Debts, which Edmund Kean made popular in the nineteenth century), but, except for manuscript adaptations of The City Madam (MsP 16.5) and The Renegado (MsP 36), they have not been given entries below.

Peter Beal