Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Pimlyco and the date of Pericles

On April 15, 1609, a small pamphlet was registered at the Stationers' Company called Pimlyco. Or, Runne Red-cap. Tis a mad world at Hogsdon. It was probably published before or near that date. "Pimlyco" or "Pimlico" is a nut-brown ale made and served in Hogsdon, also spelled Hogsden or Hoxden. In the curious pamphlet, the Anonymous writer states that the beer was so popular that several theaters found themselves empty in the afternoons, having lost their crowds to the Hogsdon public houses. The relevant quote that helps set the date of Pericles performances reads:

"(As at a New-play) all the Roomes
Did swarme with Gentiles mix'd with Groomes.
So that I truly thought, all these
Came to see Shore, or Pericles."

A. H. Bullen, who may have been the first to notice the reference, thought that the "Shore" play was probably Heywood's Edward IV. Shakespeare's Pericles was registered in 1608 but early performance dates from other sources are somewhat vague. Yet, a showing of Pericles witnessed by the Venetian and French ambassadors has been dated to between April 1607 and November 1608. If Pericles was performed as early as 1607, the claim that it was influenced by Wilkins' Patterne of Paineful Adventures, 1608, falls apart. (Actually the claim falls apart for other reasons, too.) And even though the 1609 printing of Pericles is agreed to be a "corrupt" and incomplete copy, the testimony of Pimlyco is that Pericles was very popular -- prior to April 15, 1609. So, presumably, the players had a good copy. The 1609 first quarto advertises that Pericles had been ‘diuers and sundry times acted by his Maiesties seruants, at the Globe’. Also that it was a "much admired play."

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