Article Title

"I desyre to be paid": Interpreting the Language of Remuneration in Early Modern Dramatic Archives


Kara Northway


This paper identifies and characterizes different conceptions of remuneration in the language used to describe payments to dramatists in Philip Henslowe records and in the archives of liveries that sponsored civic pageants. Henslowe regards work for drama as payments or wages while the liveries consider it a service for a gratuity. The attitude of the liveries calls our attention to their archival practices and implications for dramatists. Searching their own financial records and pooling archival resources allow the liveries to lower previous prices for drama and restrict payments to dramatists. Surprisingly, dramatists also emphasized and manipulated information gleaned in sponsors archives, and they exploited the two attitudes toward dramatic work in order to protect, augment, or calculate remuneration. Anthony Munday collaborated with the Goldsmiths in Chruso-thriambos (1611) to portray them as accurate assessors of financial value and to represent records as effective places to discover political value in addition to financial value. When sponsors records offered Munday competing conclusions regarding political value, as in Himatia-Poleos (1614), he used them to promote his immediate employers, the Drapers, and save his remuneration. When dramatists and sponsors interpreted differently the financial value of drama in their records, however, dramatists sometimes experienced severe consequences, as in the 1604 jailing of amateur pageant-dramatist Thomas Massey in Coventry. Ultimately, this study presents new early modern uses of dramatic archives and reveals a flexible but limited agency for dramatists in their relationships with employers.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.