Reconsidering The Seven Deadly Sins
This paper argues that the manuscript "plot" of a play called The Second Part of the Seven Deadly Sins, now at Dulwich College, has been misdated by previous scholars. These scholars have generally assumed that the plot originated with some version of Strange's Men in 1590-92, based on the presence of Richard Burbage's name and the assumption that Edward Alleyn must have been involved. However, many of these fundamental assumptions are faulty, and I argue that the plot came to Dulwich not through Alleyn, but through the actor-bookseller William Cartwright sixty years later. Once the faulty assumptions are corrected, the evidence points strongly toward an origin with the Lord Chamberlain's Men in 1597-98, the company for which Shakespeare was writing such plays as Much Ado and 1 & 2 Henry IV. This redating has farranging implications both for theatre history and for the biographies of the players involved, and it allows us to reconstruct one of the most important Elizabethan playing companies in unprecedented detail.
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