Alleyn and company
December 11, 2009 10:32 AM   Subscribe

The papers of Edward Alleyn, the Elizabethan actor-manager, are now available online in a digital edition. Most of what we know about the London theatre in the age of Shakespeare comes from this archive; highlights include the only surviving example of a 'part' or script written out for an actor in an Elizabethan play (image) and the contract for building the Fortune playhouse in 1600, just a year after the building of the Globe. Sadly, the archive doesn't include any manuscripts relating to Shakespeare, because Alleyn worked for the Admiral's Men, one of the two main theatre companies in London, whereas Shakespeare worked for the competition (the Lord Chamberlain's Men), though that didn't stop the nineteenth-century forger John Payne Collier from faking a few documents of his own to fill the gap.
posted by verstegan (6 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Being a Shakespeare geek/scholar/impending academic, I experienced this post in three stages:

1.) "Ooh, digital archives of Elizabethan theatre documents. Cool!"

2.) "They digitized that surviving part that I've only ever read about? Awesome."

3.) "The project's archive is hosted and maintained by not only the university, but the very department in which I'm starting my PhD next month? 'SBLOOD!*"

* May only be an approximation of what I said/thought.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:48 AM on December 11, 2009 [2 favorites]

The show must... you know...
posted by thanotopsis at 11:41 AM on December 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by Greg Nog at 11:45 AM on December 11, 2009

This is fantastic!

BTW, The National Archives have a really good palaeography tutorial for anyone who'd like to learn how to read those manuscripts.
posted by mattn at 12:34 AM on December 12, 2009

I had a prof whose specialty was Elizabethan hand-writing. She was always self effacing about it but damn, it's kind of fascinating.
posted by bardic at 1:33 AM on December 12, 2009

I was going to link to that paleography tutorial, mattn.

The only problem with secretary hand (the usual Elizabethan/Jacobean handwriting style) is that every hand is different: reading one doesn't much help with reading another.

That said -- while this is awesome and all -- most of these documents have been available in microfilm or photos for a while. And they've all been transcribed.

Still really nice to see them, though!
posted by jrochest at 5:58 PM on December 12, 2009

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