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A Yorkshire tragedy.
1608

STC 22340, title page

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STC 22340, title page
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Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: A Yorkshire tragedy. Not so new as lamentable and true. Acted by his Maiesties Players at the Globe. VVritten by VV. Shakspeare.
Date: At London : Printed by R[ichard] B[radock] for Thomas Pauier and are to bee sold at his shop on Cornhill, neere to the exchange, 1608.
Repository: Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, USA
Call number and opening: STC 22340, title page
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Item Title
A Yorkshire tragedy. Not so new as lamentable and true. Acted by his Maiesties Players at the Globe. VVritten by VV. Shakspeare.
Item Date
At London : Printed by R[ichard] B[radock] for Thomas Pauier and are to bee sold at his shop on Cornhill, neere to the exchange, 1608.
Repository
Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, USA
Call Number
STC 22340, title page

Institution Rights and Document Citation

Terms of use
Images that are under Folger copyright are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. This allows you to use our images without additional permission provided that you cite the Folger Shakespeare Library as the source and you license anything you create using the images under the same or equivalent license. For more information, including permissions beyond the scope of this license, see Permissions. The Folger waives permission fees for non-commercial publication by registered non-profits, including university presses, regardless of the license they use. For images copyrighted by an entity other than the Folger, please contact the copyright holder for permission information.

Copy-specific information
Creator: William Shakespeare
Title: A Yorkshire tragedy. Not so new as lamentable and true. Acted by his Maiesties Players at the Globe. VVritten by VV. Shakspeare.
Date: At London : Printed by R[ichard] B[radock] for Thomas Pauier and are to bee sold at his shop on Cornhill, neere to the exchange, 1608.
Repository: Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, USA
Call number and opening: STC 22340, title page
View online bibliographic record

In 1608, Thomas Pavier published the first quarto of A Yorkshire Tragedy bearing the attribution “Acted by his Maiesties Players at the Globe. / Written by VV. Shakspeare.” The play was previously entered in the Stationers' Register, in an entry also including Shakespeare's name. The combination of his explicit name, playing company and theater makes this one of the firmest print attributions to Shakespeare in his lifetime, although most scholars now accept it as a Middleton play.

The quarto was printed by Richard Braddock and includes a second title heading on signature A2r, which reads “ALL’S ONE, / OR, / One of the foure Plaies in one, called / a York-shire Tragedy: as it was plaid / by the Kings Maiesties Plaiers.” The implication that this play was part of a four-play cycle or entertainment may explain its length-- A Yorkshire Tragedy is the shortest extant play from the professional early modern theater. The second title page further implies that it is the larger entertainment that is called A Yorkshire Tragedy, and that the play published here is in fact titled All’s One.

The story dramatises the 1605 scandal surrounding Walter Calverley’s murder of two of his children and attempted murder of his wife, and hews closely to a pamphlet published in that year. The same story was dramatised by George Wilkins in the company’s contemporary The Miseries of Enforced Marriage, and at least one critic has suggested that the two plays may have had a closer relationship in the King’s Men repertory.

Most scholars now accept that the play is the sole work of Thomas Middleton (though some continue to suggest that the first scene, which is narratively and tonally distinct from the rest of the short play, may be by another (Sharpe 2013, 704-10).) The Shakespeare attribution may suggest that Shakespeare had another role in the Four Plays, but this is only speculation.
 

Written by Peter Kirwan

Will Sharpe, "Authorship and Attribution" in William Shakespeare and Others: Collaborative Plays, eds Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen, with Jan Sewell and Will Sharpe (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013): 643-747.

Last updated June 19, 2017