The Spanish Tragedy

The 1602 additions

As noted above, the White/Pavier Q4 of 1602 added five passages, totalling 320 lines, to the existing text of the prior three quartos. The most substantial of these five is an entire scene, usually called the painter scene since it is dominated by Hieronimo's conversation with a painter; it is often designated III,xiia, falling as it does between scenes III,xii and III,xiii of the original text.

Henslowe's Diary records two payments to Ben Jonson, dated 25 September 1601 and 22 June 1602, for additions to The Spanish Tragedy. Yet most scholars reject the view that Jonson is the author of the 1602 additions. The literary style of the additions is judged to be un-Jonsonian; Henslowe paid Jonson several pounds for his additions, which has seemed an excessive sum for 320 lines. And John Marston appears to parody the painter scene in his 1599 play Antonio and Mellida, indicating that the scene must have been in existence and known to audiences by that time. The five additions in the 1602 text may have been made for the 1597 revival by the Admiral's Men. Scholars have proposed various identities for the author of the revisions, including Dekker, John Webster, and Shakespeare—"Shakespeare has perhaps been the favorite in the continuing search..."[14]

(It can seem surprising to find Shakespeare, house playwright for the Lord Chamberlain's Men, as a putative reviser of a play associated with their rival company the Admiral's Men. Yet Sir Thomas More provides a precedent of Shakespeare working as a reviser in a surprising context. It is also quite possible that the play remained, in different versions, in the repertoire of more than one company, and that the Jonson additions for Henslowe refer to the adaptation of one script while the additions in the 1602 Quarto represent those to another version, not for Henslowe but for the Chamberlain's Men. It is notable that Richard Burbage, the Chamberlain's lead actor, was a celebrated player of Hieronimo's part.)

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