The Spanish Tragedy - Attributed to Thomas Kyd

Publishing History of the Anonymous Spanish Tragedy Quartos
by Robert Brazil copyright © 2002


The 1615 Quarto

The Spanish Tragedie:
OR,
Hieronimo is mad againe.


Containing the lamentable end of Don Horatio, and
Bel-imperia; with the pittifull death of Hieronimo.
Newly corrected, amended, and enlarged with new
Additions of the Painters part, and others, as
it hath of late been divers times acted.
LONDON,
Printed by W. White, for I. White and T. Langley,
and are to be sold at their Shop over against the
Sarazens head without New-gate. 1615



Date of Composition of The Spanish Tragedy

Ben Jonson, writing in 1614, refers to Spanish Tragedy as "Jeronimo," for the tragic character. [Induction to Bartholomew Fair] "Hee that will sweare, Jeronimo or Andronicus are the best playes, yet, shall passe unexcepted at, heere, as a man whose Judgment shewes it is constant, and hath stood still, these five and twenty, or thirtie yeeres'.Those who say "Spanish Tragedy and Titus are the best" are 25-30 years out of date. 1614 minus 30 is 1584. Titus would seem to come from the same time as well, though perhaps after Spanish Tragedy. The time range indicated is thus 1584-1589, at least by his recall. There has been much debate about this point. An even earlier date was proposed by David Bevington, (in his edition of Spanish Tragedy), based on the "current events" shown in the play."Names, events and places of recent Iberian history are suggestively implied in the play's dialogue, but without much precision. Spain had defeated Portugal in the bloody battle of Alcantara in 1580; Portugal was ruled after 1582 by a viceroy; Terceira, in the Azores, fell to the Spanish in 1583. The Spanish Tragedy begins with the defeat of the
Portuguese viceroy, and alludes to Terceira at I.iii.82.< (Bevington, The Spanish Tragedy, Manchester University Press, c1996, p.2)

The 1580 Battle of Alcantara, wherein Spain conquered Portugal was a world shaking Political event. Thus it is not surprising that the war served as a backdrop for a story that could easily be transferred to any other place and time.

The Quartos of The Spanish Tragedy

The play was always printed anonymously, when Kyd was alive, and in the numerous editions after his death. In spite of numerous text changes, a variety of printers and publishers, and the printed claim by Heywood, in 1612 that ST was Kyd's, the subsequent editions, after 1612 remained anonymous. Perhaps the character of the play was such, that no one living or dead wanted to take credit for it?

There were major additions in 1602 - credited to Jonson - records show he was paid for them.

The Quartos

0. Lost 1st edition - Stationers Entry October 6, 1592 to Abel Jeffes
This edition is inferred from the wording on the title page of the next quarto.

1. The Spanish Tragedie containing the lamentable end of Don Horatio and Bel-imperia.
Newly corrected and amended of such grosse faults as passed in the first impression. [Anon]
quarto - Printed by Edward Allde, for Edward White [1592] STC#15086
TP features Winged-Face Box woodcut with T H E in the box. (used also by Allde&White on Soliman and Perseda) And the elaborate emblem (associated with j.Harrison) featuring a Hare, Rye, and the Sun. Also depicted, a rose, and two figures, and the Arms of the Stationers' Co. (McKerrow #343) McKerrow was puzzled by this emblem for other reasons, and I am as well, as it would seem to be Harrison's emblem, and he presumably had nothing to do with ST. Unless McKerrow is wrong and this is not Harrison's emblem and it is some other joke involving "heir" and "son" ?

2. The Spanish Tragedie containing … 1594
- A. Jeffes sold by E. White STC#15087

3. The Spanish Tragedie containing … . Newly corrected and amended of such grosse faults as passed in the former impression. - Printed by William White dwelling in Cow-lane. 1599
- STC#15088 Re-assigned to William White on Aug.13, 1599
- Features V-Block Header and The Pelican Emblem [of White]
- [McKerrow #165] [identical TP emblems on Edward I, also anon, (peele)1599]
- this is the only edition of ST where only one person is involved or credited - note that the new owner and printer-publisher is not the previous publisher Edward White and they were not related.

4. The Spanish Tragedie … Newly corrected, amended, and enlarged with new additions of the Painters part, and others, as it hath of late been divers times acted. 1602
Imprinted at London by W. W[hite] - for T. Pavier STC#15089 Re-entered to White on Aug.14, 1600
- Features V-Block Header and The Pelican Emblem [of White] [McKerrow #165] [identical TP design as the last quarto of ST and on White's Edward I, also anon, (peele)1599]
- This is the first edition which contains the added material, possibly be Jonson.
- Strangely, the STC catalog says this edition came out in 1600, rather than 1602.

5. The Spanish Tragedie … variant 1603
- W. W[hite] for T. Pavier STC#15089a
<Features Paviers Emblem - McKerrow #345, with motto "Thou shalt Labor till thou Returne to dust " >This might be the first use by Pavier of 345, which shows a man working - a Paver - paving a road.

6. The Spanish Tragedie … reprint 1610 (1611)
- W. White [for T. Pavier] STC#15090

7. The Spanish Tragedie OR Hieronimo is mad againe. 1615
- Printed by W. White sold by J. White a T. Langley 1615 STC#15091
- New edition with new woodcut illustration featuring Hieronimo. reprint

8. The Spanish Tragedie … variant imprint of 1615
- W. White f. J. White a T. Langley 1615 STC#15091a

9. The Spanish Tragedie … new edition 1618
- J. White for T. Langley 1615 STC#15092

10. The Spanish Tragedie … new edition 1623
- A. Mathewes sold by J. Grismand 1623 STC#15093

11. The Spanish Tragedie … variant imprint 1623
- A. Mathewes sold by T. Langley 1623 STC#15093a

12. The Spanish Tragedie … new edition 1633
- A. Mathewes for F, Grove 1633 STC#15094
- New SR entry E. Brewster and R. Bird August 4, 1626


Go to Spanish Tragedy Act 1
Go to Spanish Tragedy Act 2
Go to Spanish Tragedy Act 3
Go to Spanish Tragedy Act 4
Go to Spanish Tragedy Glossary & Appendices




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