ABSTRACT

In this chapter we shall be concerned with a number of plays which show the versatility of the English stage in the 1580s and early 1590s. Once again the precise chronology is difficult to determine, and in the case of Greene and Peele at least there are overlaps in time apparently, and in subject matter. There is, however, a persistent sense that the plays of these dramatists, working at close quarters with one another, evidence parallels which may indeed be signs of rivalry or simply emulation. But whichever way influence may have flowed, we find here an intensive playmaking culture in which it must have been stimulating to work, and this in spite of some very vociferous cross-criticism like Greene’s characterisation of Shakespeare, in A Groatsworth of W it, as

an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best o f you: and . . . is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country.1