chapter  3
14 Pages

Playwright

Ben Jonson the playwright lost no time in getting down to work. On 3 December 1597 Henslowe records giving him an advance of twenty shillings 'upon a book which he showed the plot unto the company', as Henslowe noted. By the summer of that year he had attracted attention from the commentator Francis Meres, who published an account of the contemporary drama, Palladis Tamia. When he came to the playwrights Meres named 'Benjamin Johnson' alongside Shakespeare as one of the foremost English dramatists, specifying that of all then writing he was 'among our best for tragedy'. The play text proved to be very much in demand, and it went through three editions between 8 April 1600, when it was entered on the Stationers' Register, and the end of the year. The play has not been identified and may be one of Jonson's many lost works – he told Drummond that 'the half of his comedies were not in print'.