Discursive Paratexts in Commercial Playbooks, 1590-1623 

This table contains first-edition commercial playbooks – in single-text and collections – that feature one or more dedications, addresses to readers, and/or commendatory verses. The final column specifies the number and type of paratexts, as well as their contributors (where known). Modern attributions are given in square brackets; date = date of publication. Links to full transcriptions will be available soon.

To use, please cite: Amy Lidster, ‘Discursive Paratexts in Commercial Playbooks, 1590-1623’, online resource (2023), available A downloadable file is available below.

YearTitleAuthorCompanySTCPublisherParatexts and Contributor
15901 and 2 Tamburlaine[Marlowe]Admiral’s17425Richard JonesAddress to reader (by Jones)
1591Endymion[Lyly]Paul’s (1)17050Joan BroomeAddress to reader (from ‘Printer’, likely meaning Broome)
15911 and 2 Troublesome Reign of King John[Anon]Queen’s14644Sampson ClarkeAddress to reader (anon; repurposed stage prologue?)
1600Every Man Out of His HumourJonson[Chamberlain’s]14767William HolmeNote on original ending (unsigned; by Jonson); note from stationer
1600The Shoemaker’s Holiday[Dekker]Admiral’s6523Valentine SimmesDedication to shoemakers, (unsigned; by Dekker)
1601Cynthia’s RevelsJonsonChapel (2)14773Walter BurreSpecial dedications in variant states to 1) William Camden and 2) Lucy Russell, Countess of Bedford (by Jonson) 
1602Antonio and MellidaMarstonPaul’s (2)17473Thomas Fisher and Matthew LownesDedication to ‘Nobody’ (by Marston)
1602PoetasterJonsonChapel (2)14781Matthew LownesAddress to reader (unsigned; likely from stationer)
1602SatiromastixDekkerPaul’s (2) and Chamberlain’s6520.7Edward White (1)Address ‘To the World’ (unsigned; by Dekker)
1604The MalcontentMarston [Queen’s Revels]17479William AspleyDedication to Jonson (by Marston, in Latin); address to the reader (by Marston)
1605Philotas (in Certain Small Poems, 1605)Daniel[Queen’s Revels]  6239Simon Waterson and Edward BlountDedication to Prince Henry (by Daniel), for the play, plus other collection paratexts
1605SejanusJonson[King’s]14782Thomas ThorpeAddress to reader (by Jonson), 8 commendatory verses (by ‘Georgius Chapmannus’, ‘Hugh Holland’, ‘Cygnus’, ‘Th.R.’, ‘Iohannes Marstonius’, ‘William Strachey’, ‘Φιλοε’ [a friend], ‘Ev.B.’)
1606ParasitasterMarstonQueen’s Revels17483William CottonAddress to reader (by Marston)
1606The Wonder of Women, or SophonisbaMarston[Queen’s Revels]  17488John Windet (printer); William Cotton (bookseller)Address to reader (by Marston); unsigned note in lieu of errata
1607The Whore of BabylonDekkerPrince’s 6532Nathaniel ButterAddress to reader (by Dekker)
1607Cupid’s WhirligigSharphamKing’s Revels22380Arthur JohnsonDedication to Robert Hayman (by Sharpham)
1607The Travels of the Three English BrothersDay, W. Rowley, WilkinsAnne’s6417John Wright (1)Dedication to Shirley family from the dramatists (one state only)
1607The Devil’s CharterBarnesKing’s 1466/aJohn Wright (1)Dedication to William Herbert (1st Baron Powis) and William Pope (Earl of Down) by Barnes (variant issue has different dedication)
1607The FleerSharphamQueen’s Revels 22384Francis BurtonAddress to reader from stationer (unsigned; Burton)
1607VolponeJonson[King’s]14783Thomas ThorpeDedication and address to Oxford and Cambridge (by Jonson); 10 commendatory verses (‘E. B.’; ‘I. D.’; ‘T. R.’ (2); ‘F. B.’; ‘D. D.’; ‘I. C.’; ‘G. C.’; ‘E. S.’; ‘I. F.’; variant contains additional verses by ‘N.F.’)
1608The Family of LoveAnon King’s Revels [Admiral’s first]17879John HelmeAddress to reader (unsigned; from dramatist)
1608Law TricksDayQueen’s Revels 6416Richard MooreAddress to reader (from the Book; probably Day)
1608Humour out of BreathDayKing’s Revels6411John HelmeDedication to Signior No-body (by Day)
1608The Rape of LucreceHeywoodAnne’s13360John Busby (1) and Nathaniel ButterAddress to reader (by Heywood)
1608The Conspiracy and Tragedy of Charles Duke of Byron Chapman[Queen’s Revels]  4968Thomas ThorpeDedication to Thomas Walsingham and his son (by Chapman)
1608The Dumb KnightMarkham and Machin King’s Revels17399John BacheAddress to reader (by Machin)
1609Troilus and CressidaShakespeare[Chamberlain’s]22332Richard Bonian and Henry WalleyAddress to reader (by Bonian and Walley) in one issue
1609The Two Maids of More-ClackeArminKing’s Revels773Thomas ArcherAddress to reader (by Armin)
[1610?]The Faithful ShepherdessFletcher[Queen’s Revels]  11068Richard Bonian and Henry WalleyDedications to Walter Aston; William Skipwith; Robert Townshend (all by Fletcher); address to reader (Fletcher); 4 commendatory verses (by Beaumont, Chapman, Field, Jonson)
1611The Golden AgeHeywoodAnne’s13325William BarrengerAddress to the reader (by Heywood)
1611Catiline His ConspiracyJonson[King’s]14759Walter BurreDedication to William Herbert, 3rd Earl of Pembroke (by Jonson; two addresses to reader (by Jonson); 3 commendatory verses (by Beaumont, Fletcher, Field)
1611The Roaring GirlDekker and MiddletonPrince’s 17908Thomas ArcherAddress to reader (by Middleton)
1612A Woman is a WeathecockFieldQueen’s Revels 10854John BudgeDedication to ‘any Woman that hath beene no Weather-Cocke’ (by Field); address to reader (by Field); commedatory verse (Chapman)
1612A Christian Turned Turk Daborn [children’s, unknown]6184William BarrengerAddress to reader (unsigned; by Daborn)
1612The Widow’s TearsChapman[Queen’s Revels]  4994John Browne (1)Dedication to John Reed of Mitton (by Chapman)
1612The AlchemistJonson[King’s Men]14755Walter BurreDedication to Lady Mary Wroth (by Jonson); address to reader (unsigned; probably Jonson); 1 commendatory verse (by George Lucy)
1612If It Be Not Good, The Devil Is In It DekkerAnne’s6507John TrundleDedication to Queen Anne’s Men (by Dekker)
1612The White DevilWebsterAnne’s25178Thomas ArcherAddress to the reader (unsigned; by Webster)
1613The Revenge of Bussy D’AmboisChapman[Queen’s Revels]  4989Thomas Snodham (printer); John Helme (bookseller)Dedication to Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Berkshire (by Chapman)
1613The Brazen AgeHeywood[Anne’s]13310Samuel RandAddress to reader (unsigned; by Heywood)
1613The Knight of the Burning Pestle[Beaumont][Queen’s Revels]  1674Walter BurreDedication to Robert Keysar, manager of the Children of the Revels (by Burre)
1613The Silver AgeHeywood[Anne’s]13365Nicholas Okes Address to reader (by Heywood)
1614Greene’s Tu QuoqueIo [shua?] CookeAnne’s5673John TrundleAddress to reader (by Heywood); 1 commendatory verse from ‘W.R.’; couplet on Greene’s death (by ‘W.R.’)
1615The Valiant Welshman R.A.’ [Anton? Armin?]Prince’s [Prince Charles’s Men first]16Robert LownesAddress to reader (unsigned; by the dramatist)
1615Cupid’s Revenge Fletcher [and Beaumont]Queen’s Revels 1667Josias HarrisonAddress to reader (by Printer, likely meaning Harrison)
1615The Four Prentices of LondonHeywoodAnne’s [Admiral’s first]13321John Wright (1)Address to the ‘honest and hie-spirited Prentises the Readers’ (by Heywood)
1616The Works Jonson[multiple]14751/2William Stansby9 commendatory verses for volume (by Selden, Ed. Heyward, Chapman, Holland, Day, Bolton, Beaumont), plus individual paratexts for each play
1617A Fair QuarrelMiddleton and W. Rowley Prince Charles’s17911John TrundleDedication to Robert Grey, Groom of the Bedchamber (by Rowley)
1619A King and No KingBeaumont and Fletcher King’s1670Thomas WalkleyDedication to Henry Neville (d. 1629) by Walkley
1620The Two Merry MilkmaidsI.C.’ [John Cumber?]Red Bull (1)4281Laurence ChapmanAddress to reader (by Printer, prob. meaning Chapman)
1620Swetnam the Woman-Hater Arraigned by WomenAnonAnne’s23544Richard MeighenAddress to reader (couplet, unsigned)
1620The World Tossed at TennisMiddleton and W. Rowley Prince Charles’s17909George PursloweDedication to Charles Howard, 3rd Baron Howard of Effingham and Mary Howard, Lady Effingham (by Middleton); address to reader (by ‘Simplicitie’; prob. dramatists)
1622OthelloShakespeareKing’s22305Thomas WalkleyAddress to reader (by Walkley)
1622Herod and AntipaterMarkham and SampsonRed Bull (1)17401/2Matthew RhodesAddress to reader (by Rhodes); one issue replaces this address with a dedication to Thomas Finch (by Sampson)
1622The HeirMayRed Bull (1)17713Thomas Jones (2)Commendatory verse (by Thomas Carew)
1623Comedies, Histories, and TragediesShakespeare[multiple]22273Isaac and William Jaggard, Edward Blount, John Smethwick, William AspleyDedication to William and Philip Herbert (by Heminge and Condell); 2 addresses to reader (by Heminge and Condell; Jonson); 4 commendatory verses (Jonson, Holland, Digges, Mabbe)
1623The Duke of MilanMassingerKing’s 17634Edward BlackmoreDedication to Lady Catherine Stanhope (by Massinger); commendatory verse (by W.B.)
1623The Devil’s Law Case WebsterAnne’s25173John Grismand (1)Dedication to Thomas Finch, 2nd Earl of Winchilsea (by Webster); address to reader (unsigned; by Webster)
1623The Duchess of MalfiWebsterKing’s25176John WatersonDedication to George Berkeley, 8th Baron Berkeley (by Webster); three commendatory verses (by Middleton, W. Rowley, Ford)

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