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  • Title: An Humorous Day's Mirth: Textual Introduction
  • Author: Eleanor Lowe

  • Copyright Digital Renaissance Editions. This text may be freely used for educational, non-profit purposes; for all other uses contact the Editor.
    Author: Eleanor Lowe
    Peer Reviewed

    Textual Introduction

    5Dating the Play

    Although An Humorous Day始s Mirth was not entered in the Stationers始 Register, Henslowe始s records note the first performance of a play known as ‘the comodey of vmers始 on 11 May 1597.[149] Accepting Fleay始s association of this reference with An Humorous Day始s Mirth, May 1597 becomes the upper limit of estimated composition.

    Chapman始s previous hit for Henslowe, The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, was playing at the Rose theatre from 12 February 1595 until 1 April 1597, according to Henslowe始s own records. He seems to have been planning a revival of it, since further records in 1601 note payments made for its clothing. An Humorous Day始s Mirth shows Chapman clearly drawing on his first comedy始s experimentation with humours used by one character to disguise himself in three specifically characterised roles. Chapman extends this motif to a play whose comedy is based solely on humours, and, as such, is the first play of its kind. Since An Humorous Day始s Mirth develops themes explored in The Blind Beggar of Alexandria, and from Henslowe始s evidence of performance chronology, it is safe to ascertain that the composition of The Blind Beggar of Alexandria preceded that of An Humorous Day始s Mirth. The play is therefore dated 1597, year of first performance, unless the printed text of 1599 is specifically referenced.