Det. 3.2. Shake-scene, The upstart crow


              The identification of Shakespeare as “Shake-scene,” the actor who meddles in playwriting by “bombasting out” plays, rests on two assumptions; the first being that 'Shake-scene' is a pun on the name Shakespeare; and the second, that a line from Shakespeare’s play 3 Henry VI (I.iv.137), spoken by the Duke of York to Queen Margaret, “O tiger’s heart wrapp’d in a woman’s hide,” is paraphrased in the letter as "Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s hide.” The full passage reads:

“Yes trust them not: for there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tygers hart wrapt in a Players hyde, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blanke verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Johannes fac totum, is in his owne conceit the onely Shake-scene in a countrey.”

             In the passage on Shake-scene the quote from the play and the Latin expression “Johannes fac totum” are printed in italics, but not 'Shake-scene.'  It should therefore, like the names “Sir John Lacke-land” and “Mr. Scrape-pennie” that Thomas Lodge uses in An Alarum against Usurers (1584) for the gentleman who has lost his lands in the process of borrowing money from a usurer, be considered an aptronym, i.e a name “that match its owner’s occupation or character.” For instance, “Sir Midas Mammon” for a miser or usurer.[1]

Whereas the potential presence of a pun on the name Shakespeare must be left open, the aptronym 'Shake-scene' definitely denotes an actor whose voice and/or presence was so robustious as to make a scene shake. 

            How does the Stratford Shakspere match this description?  In truth, as a non-descript, for little is known of his acting career.  In E.K. Chambers’s list of actors the entry on Edward Alleyn covers almost three pages, Richard Burbage's entry takes over three pages, John Heminges nearly three, Augustine Phillips rates one and a half, Thomas Pope has one, and George Bryan thirteeen lines.  Bringing up the rear we have John Duke with three lines and finally, William Shakespeare, with two:

“SHAKESPEARE, WILLIAM.  Pembroke’s (?) 1593; Sussex’s (?) (1594); Chamberlain’s-King’s (1594-1616); and dramatist.”[2]

            And even in these two lines we find two uncertain mentions.  First, there is no evidence that the player Shakespeare belonged to Sussex’s or Pembroke’s Men.                   Andrew Gurr remarks that Shakespeare’s “name does not appear in any of the companies before the Chamberlain’s Men some time after 1594, but his plays do... If a company’s performance of his plays is anything to go by, they must give clues to his playing allegiances. That puts him in Strange’s before 1592...”[3]  This last notion adroitely skirts around an inconvenient reality: the two existing documents pertaining to Strange’s Men for the years 1592 and 1593 respectively, mention several actors who were to become Lord Chamberlain’s Men.  But not Shakspere.

             Among the several plots preserved among Edward Alleyn’s papers at Dulwich College is a plot of the second part of Richard Tarlton’s play Seven Deadly Sins. The play is no longer extant; it was performed by Strange’s Men at the Rose under the title Four Plays in One just one day before the second performance of Harry VI on 6 March 1592. The names of the actors are mentioned along the plot: Richard Burbage, John Duke, Augustine Phillips, Thomas Pope, George Bryan, Robert Pallant, all of them future Chamberlain’s Men.  But no William Shakspere. 

The other document, dated 6 May, is a license of the Privy Council to travel in the province during the plague epidemic of 1593. The actors mentioned are Edward Alleyn as servant of the Lord Admiral, and five Strange’s Men: William Kemp, Thomas Pope, John Heminges, Augustine Phillips and George Bryan.  Once again, no William Shakspere.

            Furthermore, in which plays might he have acted? The only play recorded by Henslowe before 1594 which could have been thought Shakespeare’s is Harry VI, but as will be seen later, this play was most likely not written by him.   In 1594, there were performances of Titus Andronicus, which some scholars think is not Shakespeare’s, and The Taming of A Shrew, generally thought not to be Shakespeare’s, though it might have been a source for his The Taming of The Shrew. And then? On 8 April 1594 the earl of Sussex’s Men act King Lear, which according to orthodox chronology is a play Shakespeare would write eleven or twelve years later and therefore this 1594 work is said to be the old King Leir, yet is at the same time said not to be his.  But the presence of King Lear in Henslowe’s accounts is possibly the tacit reason Chambers tentatively placed Shakespeare in the company of the Earl of Sussex. This company, however, was most likely the successor of Strange’s Men (who with Lord Strange becoming earl of Derby were for a brief spell known as Derby’s Men) and which would become soon afterwards (in June 1594) the Lord Chamberlain’s Men.  

Edward Alleyn

Who was the impressive actor who in 1592 thought himself  "the only Shake-scene in a country,” able to “bombast out a blank verse as well as the best” of the three playwrights?

Here, as Carroll justly remarks, ‘bombast’ does not mean to ‘deliver’ a line, as an actor would in performance; it means to ‘compose’ one, and a special kind of line at that.

Indeed, the actor must have felt himself incomparable, “in his own conceit” the outstanding actor in all England, or “in a country.” In 1592 the qualification would apply to one actor more than to any other.

              In 1592 Nashe writes in Pierce Penniless (1592): “Not Roscius nor Æsope, those admired tragedians that have lived ever since before Christ was born, could ever perform more in action than famous Ned Allen,[4] and again in Strange News (1593) where he says that “the name of Ned Allen on the common stage” was able “to make an ill matter good.”[5] In Skialetheia (1598) Evrard Guilpin refers to Alleyn in the epigram “On Clodius” (personifying a vainglorious courtier who borrows his attitudes from the theatre):

Clodius me thinks looks passing big of late

With Dunston’s brows, and Allen’s Cutlack gait.

What humours have possessed him so, I wonder,

His eyes are lightning, and his words are thunder.

Of the play Cutlack nothing else is known than that it was staged about 11 times between May and September 1594. But the phrase “his words are thunder” probably refers to Alleyn, as “he was apparently a man of exceptional physical stature, with a strong voice to match his size.”[6]  He acted Tamburlaine and likely also Tamar Can, an imitation of Marlowe’s Tamburlaine. Surely, Edward Alleyn could shake a scene. “In his own conceit” as well as in the view of many others, he was known  as the best actor of his day.

Among Alleyn’s papers at Dulwich College is “a manuscript of the part of Orlando in Robert Greene’s Orlando Furioso, probably played by Edward Alleyn... It is written in the hand of some scribe, with corrections and insertions, some of which certainly, and probably all, are by Alleyn... The play which was printed in quarto in 1594, appears to have originally belonged to the Queen’s men, and probably passed to Lord Strange’s company at the end of 1591. It was played by them at the Rose on 21 (22) Feb. 1591/2.”[7]

So this play by Robert Greene, staged in February 1592, only months before Greene’s Groatsworth of Wit was written, had been “bombasted out” by Edward Alleyn, indeed, the actor had had the temerity to add 530 lines of his own.  Moreover, Alleyn was the owner of the play Tamar Can and likely to have been the author or at the very least a collaborator. Greg comments: “I have little doubt that it [Tamar Can] was written as a rival to Tamburlain which belonged to the Admiral’s men.”[8] Like Marlowe’s Tamburlain the play consisted of two parts. Only the plot of the first part is extant. The second part was staged by the Lord Admiral’s men on 28 April 1592.  Thus in the months leading up to the composition of Groatsworth, the famous actor Alleyn had manifestly dared to rival both Greene and Marlowe at playwriting.

            Alleyn was also a well-known Johannes factotum. “From Henslowe's account book of the Rose Playhouse (commonly referred to as his diary) it would appear that he and Alleyn ran the theatre as a shared partnership. Alleyn presumably earned his share of the profits primarily from his work on stage; however, he also co-signed loans to, and for the company, authorized the purchase of playbooks and costumes, witnessed loans for ready money advanced to individual players, and occasionally sold his own copies of playbooks to the company.”[9] Another line in the letter in Groatsworth points to him (and to his father-in-law Henslowe): “I know the best husband of you all will never prove an Usurer, and the kindest of them all will never prove a kind nurse.” Moneylenders, though the taking of ten percent interest was allowed, were considered usurers by Elizabethan public opinion.

A Tigers’s Heart

            3 Henry VI was first printed in 1595 as The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York, also known as The second part of the Contention betwixt the Houses of Lancaster and York. The first part of The Contention corresponds to 2 Henry VI and was printed the year before. Both were published anonymously. The paraphrased line “ A tiger’s heart wrapp’d in a woman’s hide” is not only contained in 3 Henry VI, it is also found in True Tragedy. The two versions have much in common, but there are also considerable differences of content and style between them. In 1598 Francis Meres does not mention Henry VI as one of Shakespeare’s six tragedies. It was not until 1619, when William Jaggard printed and Thomas Pavier published the two plays in one volume as The Whole Contention, that the play was assigned to William Shakespeare.  When Greene's Groatsworth of Wit appeared in September 1592, no printed text was available.

            What is clear is that the plays performed on the stage were Contention and True Tragedy, not the versions of 2 and 3 Henry VI as printed in the First Folio. No playing company’s name is mentioned on the title-page of Contention. But a year later, in 1595, the title-page of True Tragedy mentions that the play was “sundry times acted by the Right Honourable the Earle of Pembroke his servants.”  The Earl of Pembroke’s Men, though, are unlikely to have performed the play for the first time. “As a matter of fact, there is no mention of Pembroke’s before 1592 and no reason to suppose that it had an earlier existence.”[10] However, it seems pretty clear that Strange’s, Sussex’s and Chamberlain’s Men form a continuum. The three companies performed a number of Shakespearean or proto-Shakespearean plays: 1 Henry VI, Titus Andronicus, King Leare, Hamlet, The Taming of A Shrew.

            It would have been natural for Strange’s Men also to have performed Contention and True Tragedy, and some circumstantial evidence exists to support this hypothesis. Both in Contention and 2 Henry VI, two Cade rebels are called George Bevis and John Holland, which were also these actors’ real names. In plots and prompt-books actors of minor parts such as keeper, captain, attendants were often mentioned by their real names. Another actor of such small roles (probably because of his very low stature), [11] was John Sincler or Sincklo. His name is mentioned in the Folio version of 3 Henry VI: ”Enter Sincklo and Humfrey with cross-bows in their hands.”[12] With a brief hiatus Sincler or Sincklo seems to have belonged successively to Strange’s, Chamberlain’s and the King’s Men. In 1604 he is mentioned along with Burbage, Condell, Lowin, and Sly in the induction to John Marston’s The Malcontent. The names Sincler and Holland also appear in the plot of The Second Part of Seven Deadly Sins, acted by Strange’s Men as Four Plays in One (i.e., an induction and a play on the 3 deadly sins Envy, Sloth, and Lechery) on 6 March 1592.  As Henslowe subsequently does not record the play again, this performance was probably the last in a series.  The plot is among Edward Alleyn’s papers, and he is likely to have acted in it, though his name is not mentioned (but no names are given for two leading parts, Henry VI and the monk-poet Lydgate). Sincklo and Holland took several minor roles.

            Given that the performance is not recorded by Henslowe and that his records for  Strange’s Men commence on 19 February 1592, the performance of both Contention plays must have taken place early that year or before. Another circumstance corroborates a performance before 1592.  1 Henry VI, staged early in March 1592, must have been written and performed after Contention and True Tragedy were.  Had the Contention and True Tragedy been written later, it would be inconceivable that no mention of Lord Talbot, the hero of 1 Henry VI,  is made in them, especially in Humphrey, the Duke of Gloucester’s enumeration of  the heroes in France (I.ii.75-85). Named are: Henry V, Bedford, Salisbury, Warwick, and York. The last three were still alive, but Henry V and his brother, the Duke of Bedford, were dead. Historically, Lord Talbot was also still alive. But the stage would probably have prevailed over the chronicles. Had 1 Henry VI already been written, it would not have been possible to omit Lord Talbot from the “hall of fame”.

Several different hands are recognizable in 1 Henry VI.  E.K. Chambers classifies the different styles from (a) to (f). According to him, only (e), the famous Temple Garden scene in which the earls of Somerset, Suffolk and Warwick, Richard Plantagenet (not yet restored to the title of Duke of York) and two lawyers pluck either a white or a red rose to demonstrate their allegiances, and perhaps (f), might be Shakespeare’s. On what grounds does he reject Talbot’s death-scenes as authentic?  “They [scenes IV.3-7]  are often claimed for Shakespeare, but on the whole I think it is more likely that they are by the author of (b), and the duplication of a tasteless comparison of Talbot and his son to Daedalus and Icarus favours this.”[13] The sections assigned to (b) are mainly the scenes with Joan of Arc, on which Chambers remarks: “It is in a very inferior style, with many flat and some absurd lines, much tautology, and a tendency to drag in learned allusions.”[14] In these scenes, allusions are found to Nero, Hannibal, Rhodope of Memphis, Astraea, etc. The likening of young Talbot (who wants to fly as high as his father) to Icarus and Talbot himself to Daedalus is indeed far-fetched and highfalutin.[15]

  Walter W. Greg also recognizes a plurality of authors, “their very disparate styles can only be ascribed to difference of authorship... But disparity of style is not the only ground for suspecting diversity of authorship... For example, the author of V.i, in which Winchester [Henry Beaufort, bishop of] has, it appears, only lately become cardinal, can hardly have read, still less have written, I.iii, in which he already appears in full canonicals.”

            As Edmund Malone believed, Contention and True Tragedy would have been the source plays for 2 and 3 Henry VI.  One of the authors would have been Robert Greene, and Shakespeare’s use of the plays would have provoked Greene’s anger, charging Shakespeare with theft. Later, Malone changed his mind in favour of Marlowe as principal author, but the conception that Greene, in his outburst against Shake-scene, was accusing Shakespeare of plagiary, has persisted. One problem was left unaddressed by Malone: when did Shakespeare rewrite the text and why would not his text but the text of the source plays have been staged and printed? The looming  consequence of Malone’s two theories was that the line probably did not refer to Shakespeare.  And Dr. C.F. Tucker Brooke in his 912 study The Authorship of 2 and 3 Henry VI  (and fully supported by Dr. Allison Gaw in The Origin and Development of 1 Henry VI, written in the early 1920's), argued that the line heard by Greene was by Marlowe, not Shakespeare.[16]

            Then, in 1924 another Shakespearean scholar, Peter Alexander, raised the siege of the Shakespeare fortress, but not without letting in a Trojan horse. The relationship between, on the one hand, Contention and True Tragedy and, on the other, 2 and 3 Henry VI was reversed. Alexander contended that Shakespeare’s versions were the originals, Contention and True Tragedy corrupt versions of Shakespeare’s texts, constructed from the imperfect memory of an actor-reporter. That the reporter was also an actor is thought to have accounted for the presence of both heavily corrupted and more or less genuine parts. The consequence lay at hand: the paraphrased line did refer to the original author. The Trojan horse was that Peter Alexander claimed the same direction of influence for Shakespeare’s King John and the anonymous The Troublesome Reign of King John.  But the latter was printed in 1591, whereas the former was placed not earlier than 1595 in the orthodox chronology.

Alexander’s new theory was unwise, as Clayton Alvis Greer explained in a long article in PMLA.[17]  Greer’s objections, though pertinent, remained without effect, reducing the author to a twenty-four year’s silence.  In 1957 he made another attempt in a brief note in Notes and Queries. Greer pointed to the great number of stage directions shared by, on the one hand, Contention and 2 Henry VI and, on the other, True Tragedy and 3 Henry VI. “Since stage directions were not uttered in a performance and an actor-reporter could not have heard them, how could he have gotten 160 stage directions out of 217 very much the same in word, 38 exactly the same and 122 only slightly altered?”[18] Nevertheless, Greer had also shown that some stage directions in Contention and True Tragedy were not found in 2 and 3 Henry VI  and instead followed Holinshed’s and Hall’s Chronicles.  The “actor-reporter” would have reconstructed the texts with Holinshed and Hall at his side; according to general agreement, this was the way Shakespeare had been working himself. Greer further argued that most of the differences cannot be explained by failing memory. Finally, the “actor-reporter” would sometimes have proved an excellent poet.  Contention and True Tragedy each contain some very good poetry not to be found in 2 and 3 Henry VI.

              In 3 Henry VI Gloucester’s soliloquy has 72 lines, in True Tragedy only 30, so according to the memorial reconstruction theory, the “actor-reporter” would have been unable to remember 42. He would have remembered the first ten fairly well, but lines 134-146 would have tumbled straight into dark forgetfulness.  From line 147 on his memory would have recovered, but at line 165, and through 190 he would once again have lost his retention. The last five lines he would again have remembered, apart from the phrase “murderous Machiavel” which he would on an apparent creative whim, replace with “the aspiring Catiline."  Historically this is perhaps the more appropriate comparison for Richard III, one which sounds as Marlowesque as “murderous Machiavel.”  Our “actor-reporter” would appear to have been well-versed in Roman history.  From his supposedly ragged memory he would, by a happy, nay, a prodigious coincidence, have produced  a monologue which is in itself coherent, the sort of result one would expect from a skilled abridger.  Or, vice versa, would have been skilfully complemented by Shakespeare.

              The cuts, if they are 'cuts' at all, are indeed made with precision, so as not to violate consistency and continuity. In the first 10 lines of the monologue Gloucester reveals his design to seize the crown. In 3 Henry VI  there follow 13 lines of lyrical meditation. No hiatus in the course of Gloucester’s premeditation is caused by leaving these lines out and leaping directly to line 147.  But again: did the author of True Tragedy abridge Shakespeare’s play or did Shakespeare enlarge on a source?

Otherwise put: are these cuts, however apt to give more momentum to the action, from Shakespeare’s version, or did Shakespeare aptly insert reflective passages?

            In 3 Henry VI the lines 1-54 in scene II.v represent the poetical apex of the play. King Henry VI has been sent away from the battlefield by Queen Margaret and Lord Clifford as a hindrance. He weighs up whether it is a better to be a king or a shepherd. He is longing for the monotonous but assuaging cyclic course of a shepherd’s existence:

O God! methinks it were a happy life

To be no better than a homely swain;

To sit upon a hill, as I do now,

To carve out dials quaintly, point by point,

Thereby to see the minutes how they run-

How many makes the hour full complete,

How many hours brings about the day,

How many days will finish up the year,

How many years a mortal man may live.

When this is known, then to divide the times-

So many hours must I tend my flock;

So many hours must I take my rest;

So many hours must I contemplate;

So many hours must I sport myself;

So many days my ewes have been with young;

So many weeks ere the poor fools will can;

So many years ere I shall shear the fleece:

So minutes, hours, days, months, and years,

Pass'd over to the end they were created,

Would bring white hairs unto a quiet grave.

Ah, what a life were this! how sweet! how lovely!

None of this is found in True Tragedy. The “actor-reporter”would have remembered nothing, except line 22 shortly before, to which he would have added two lines of his own making:

Would God that I were dead so all were well

Or would my crown suffice, I were content

To yield it them and live a private life.

And the lines he “invented” to make up for his “failing memory” summarize the long meditation in Shakespeare’s play. They are far less poetical but they are still good poetry. That the alleged actor-reporter was a good poet was another of Greer’s arguments against the MR theory. He would not only have “left 1530 lines out of 5977 unchanged, changed 1711 and omitted 2736 entirely,”[19] he would also have added 620 lines. Greer asks emphatically: “Who was he that added nothing much but poetry? Who was he that could change 1711 lines, mostly poetry and good poetry too? What is this actor-reporter’s name? Surely he must have been known in his days as a writer as well as an actor? Surely he must have left to his credit some literary work other than the Contention and The True Tragedy.”[20]

Greer quotes seven lines from Contention and 16 lines from The True Tragedy not contained in 2 and 3 Henry VI respectively. Among the lines from True Tragedy is the following sequence spoken by the young Prince Edward, King Henry VI’s son, in  V.iv:

I will not stand aloof and bid you fight,

But with my sword press in the thickest throngs,

And single Edward from his strongest guard,

And hand to hand enforce him for to yield,

Or leave my body as witness of my thoughts.

These lines alone bring the unknown poet before our eyes. Compare them with those spoken by another young Prince Edward:

  Think not that I am frighted with thy words.
  My father's murdered through thy treachery;
  And thou shalt die, and on his mournful hearse
  Thy hateful and accursed head shall lie
  To witness to the world that by thy means
  His kingly body was too soon interred.

This young prince is of course the young king Edward III in Marlowe’s Edward II, In the True Tragedy prince Edward will “press in the thickest throngs”. The phrase occurs twice, once in True Tragedy, once in Contention. In Contention, the future Richard III attests to Warwick, his father’s (the Earl of Salisbury) valiancy: 

My Lord, I saw him in the thickest thronges

Charging his lance with his old weary arms. (V.iii.9-10)

In I.i the Earl of Salisbury exhorts his son:

And thou brave Warwick, my thrice valiant son...

In True Tragedy, II.iii.15-18, the same Richard reports Salisbury’s death:

Ah, Warwick, why hast thou withdrawn thyself?

Thy noble father in the thickest throngs,

Cried still for Warwick his thrice valiant son,

Until with thousand swords he was beset,

It is to be noted that the italics are in the original and indicate the cross-reference between the two plays. 

Marlowe seems to have had a preference for the phrase “the thickest throngs.”  He uses it in Tamburlaine Part II, III.iii.139-40:

But then run desperate through the thickest thronges,

Dreadless of blows, of bloody wounds, and deaths.

Also in Dido, Queen of Carthage, II, I, 210-12:

Yet flung I forth, and desperate of my life,

Ran in the thickest throngs, and with this sword

Sent many of their savage ghosts to hell.

However, in the scenes of 2 and 3 Henry VI  (that correspond to the ones cited above from True Tragedy) this phrase so favored by Marlowe does not occur:

Three times to-day I holp him to his horse,

Three times bestrid him, thrice I led him off,

Persuaded him from any further act; (2 HVI, V.iii)

And in 3 Henry VI, II.iii.14-19:

Ah, Warwick, why hast thou withdrawn thyself?

Thy brother's blood the thirsty earth hath drunk,

Broach'd with the steely point of Clifford's lance;

And in the very pangs of death he cried,

Like to a dismal clangor heard from far,

'Warwick, revenge! Brother, revenge my death.'

It would seem the phrase “in the thickest throngs” did not please Shakespeare. It occurs nowhere in his works.

Did Marlowe adapt Shakespeare’s plays for the stage? 

If so, the "tygers heart wrapt in a player’s hide" in the letter in GGW could be a  paraphrase of Marlowe’s "mighty line."[21]


[1] The Oxford Companion to the English Language, ed. Tom McArthur, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

[2] Chambers, E.K.: Elizabethan Stage, Vol. III, p. 314 and p. 338.

[3] Gurr, Andrew: Shakespearian playing companies, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996, p. 270.

[4] Nashe, I.215.

[5] Ibid., I.296.

[6] Dictionary of National Biography.

[7] Henslowe Papers, ed. Walter W. Greg, Appendix III, p. 155.

[8] Ibid., Appendix II, p. 144.

[9] Dictionary of National Biography.

[10] Chambers, Eliz. Stage, II.128.

[11] Eccles, Mark. “Elizabethan Authors“ in Notes & Queries, June 1993, p. 168.

[12] Greg. Editorial Problem, p. 188.

[13] Chambers. Shakespeare, I.290-3.

[14] Ibid., 290-1.

[15] Greg, Walter W. The editorial Problem in Shakespeare. A survey of the foundation of the text. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1951, pp. 185-188.

[16] Dr. Allison Gaw's conclusion (based upon careful examination of all available evidence of the possible time-frame in which Shakespeare could have revised Marlowe's work), was that "certainly up to the end of 1592, and probably up to June, 1594, Shakespeare had not made any interpolation whatever..and that Greene's reference in early September of 1592 therefore has no bearing whatever upon the subject." (The Origin and Development of I Henry VI. Los Angeles: The University of Southern California, 1926, p. 162). Earlier in the book, Gaw writes: It is usually taken for granted that Greene, in quoting it, is referring to Shakespeare's 'plagiarism' of it in 3 Henry VI. But the whole theory of such an accusation is, as Dr. Brooke has shown, utterly baseless"(p.75).  Dr. Gaw's footnote cites Dr. C. F. Tucker Brooke's Authorship of 2 and 3 Henry VI,164-71.

[17] Greer, Clayton A. “The York and Lancaster Quarto-Folio Sequence” in PMLA,  XLVIII (1933), 655-704.

[18] Greer, Clayton A. “More About the Actor-Reporter Theory in “The Contention” and “The True Tragedy” in Notes & Queries, February, 1957, pp. 52-3.

[19] Greer, in PMLA, p. 700.

[20] Ibid., p. 701.

[21] Detobel’s consideration that the line “O tiger’s heart wrapp’d in a woman’s hide” might come from Christopher Marlowe’s pen to me seems to miss the point, as this poetic formulation is ingenious. This line is also included in the second quarto of The True Tragedie of Richard Duke of York, and the Death of Good King Henrie the Sixt (1600). (The quarto is not an exact reprint of the octavo, for dozens of irregularly divided verse lines were regularised.) If “O tiger’s heart” came from the “arranger” Marlowe indeed, it could not appear in the 1623 Folio which follows William Shake-speare’s manuscript.

As Detobel has shown, the first versions of The first Part of the Contention (1594) and The True Tragedie (1595) do in no way go back to a “memorial reconstruction”.  Instead, shortened manuscripts arranged by actors served as masters, as was also the case with Prince Hamlet’s “bad quarto” (Q1 1603).

“Shake-scene”, as Detobel has it, refers to a self-important actor, most likely Edward Alleyn, who, in the manner of a stage hog, modified and varied a blank verse in a witty way. As Henry Chettle (not Robert Greene) clearly differentiated between his addressees, playwrights and actors (warning the playwrights against actors) he can by no means have equalled “Shake-scene” with the author “Shake-speare”. Wittily naming someone “Shake-scene” may be a hint at the playwright “Shake-speare” inasmuch as Chettle wants to show the actor committed a gross offence with regard to a Shake-spearean line. That means Chettle stood up for Shakes-peare’s interests against the presumptions of a “Shake-scene”. This corresponds to his hostile attitude towards the Marlowe-Alleyn-Henslowe-camp. [KK]