12 Annotations

Alan Bedford  •  Link

William Davenant (1606-1668) was an English poet and dramatist. There is a biographical article in the 1911 Brittanica on this page: http://58.1911encyclopedia.org/D/DA/DAVENPORT_E...

Davenant introduced the opera into Britain in 1656 (evidently, the Puritans did not figure out what an 'opera' was,) and he continued with these presentations through the Restoration.

He was the co-writer, along with Dryden, of the 'updated' version of Shakespeare's Tempest of which kvk noted on 18 March 2003: Pepys only saw Dryden and Davenant

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"On 21 August 1660 Charles II granted Thomas Killigrew and Davenant a warrant to '...erect two companies of players...and to purchase, build, and erect...two houses or theatres with all convenient rooms and other necessaries thereunto appertaining, for the representation of tragedies, comedies, plays, operas, and all other entertainments of that nature..."

On 12 December 1660, William Davenant received exclusive rights to perform in England nine of Shakespeare's plays: The Tempest, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, Much Ado About Nothing, Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night, King Lear and Henry VIII, as well as Davenant's own works.

"[T]he patent granted to Davenant by the Lord Chamberlain on December 12, 1660, ... ordered [Davenant] 'to peruse all playes that have been formerly written, and to expunge all Prophanesse and Scurrility from the same, before they be represented or Acted'"

Davenant edited Hamlet before presenting the play in August 1661 (with Pepys in the audience). A general description of the changes in the play as Davenant presented it are in the second Web link above, which also has an extensive discussion about plays in written form and how uncomfortable playwrights were in publishing their works that way.

The Bishop  •  Link

The reason Davenant started making changes to Shakespeare's plays was that the rival company, Killigrew's, had obtained the rights to the popular Shakesepearean plays and Davenant was left with the unpopular ones (except for Hamlet, which was a popular play).

vicente  •  Link

It appears SP was one of his first clients.
"moved to Lisle's Tennis Court in Lincoln's Inn Fields; the theater there, which became known as the Duke's Playhouse, opened in late June 1661. His company became known by a patent of 1663 as the Duke of York's Players, Killigrew's more elegantly as His Majesty's Players. "

dirk  •  Link

Davenant's warrant

The warrant King Charles gave to Davenant gave him the permission to "erect two companies of players

Glyn  •  Link

The famous painting of Pepys shows him holding a piece of music that he composed for some poetry of Davenant (presumably this Davenant). So Pepys was a fan of his.

Pauline  •  Link

Romeo and Juliet
The first officially recorded production of Romeo and Juliet took place after the Restoration (1660). On 1st March 1662 at Lincoln's Inn Fields the Duke's Company performed the play under the direction of Sir William Davenant (1606-68), a poet and playwright who claimed to be Shakespeare's illegitimate son. Davenant's text was never published so we do not now how close or removed it was from Shakespeare's but Jill L. Levenson tells us in her introduction to the Oxford Shakespeare edition that when Davenant received exclusive rights to nine Shakespeare plays, he resolved to reform them and make them 'fit' for performance. It seems likely, therefore, that there were some differences between Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet and Davenant's. His cast included Henry Harris as Romeo, Mary Saunderson as Juliet and Thomas Betterton in the role of Mercutio.

from http://www.rsc.org.uk/romeo/about/stage.html

Stolzi  •  Link

The link in the first annotation is incorrect, it should be


This article again mentions the gossip (which Davenant himself fostered) that he was the child of an amour of a greater dramatic William, Shaxper that is.

Michael Robinson  •  Link

The Pepysian Library contains the following:-

The works of Sr William D'avenant Kt consisting of those which were formerly printed, and those which he design'd for the press: now published out of the authors originall copies
London: printed by T[homas]. N[ewcomb]. for Henry Herringman, at the signe of the Blew Anchor in the lower walk of the New Exchange, 1673
[8], 402, [4], 68, 71-486, 111, [1] p., [1] leaf of plates: port.; 2⁰. Wing D320

Bill  •  Link

Apropos of Davenant being a son of Shakespeare, note the following, in which the words "god" and "God's" are italicized. Being in the way of a wink and a nod, I think. Or perhaps, "nudge. nudge."

If tradition may be trusted, Shakspeare often baited at the Crown Inn or Tavern in Oxford, in his journey to and from London. The landlady was a woman of great beauty and sprightly wit; and her husband, Mr. John Davenant, (afterwards mayor of that city) a grave melancholy man; who, as well as his wife, used much to delight in Shakspeare's pleasant company. Their son young Will Davenant (afterwards Sir William) was then a little school-boy in the town, of about seven or eight years old, and so fond also of Shakspeare, that whenever he heard of his arrival, he would fly from school to see him. One day an old townsman observing the boy running homeward almost out of breath, asked him whither he was posting in that heat and hurry. He answered, to see his god-father Shakspeare. There's a good boy, said the other, but have a care that you don't take God's name in vain. This story Mr. Pope told me at the Earl of Oxford's table, upon occasion of some discourse which arose about Shakspeare's monument then newly erected in Westminster Abbey.
---The Plays and Poems of William Shakspeare: Prolegomena. 1790.

Bill  •  Link

In a long career through great social change, William Davenant kept abreast of and sometimes advanced the tastes of the day: in the 1630s he wrote city comedies in the Jonsonian manner, and tragicomedies of statecraft, love, and intrigue; in the circle of Henrietta Maria he provided entertainments to meet the vogue for Neoplatonism, and wrote poetry in the stylish cavalier manner, honouring the conduct and taste of Caroline courtiers. With Inigo Jones he put on the final court masques, vainly attempting to promote Charles I as a benevolent autocrat, seeking the support of the ruling élite against a surge of discontent. In exile Davenant attempted to create a new style of heroic poetry, Christian, stoical, and high-minded. He returned to London in the dying days of the Commonwealth and surreptitiously introduced a form of English opera while playhouses were still banned: on the restoration of Charles II he opened a modern theatre with scenery, built up a distinguished company of players of both sexes, revived old plays and promoted writers of new ones, and exercised a virtual stage monopoly until his sudden death. His leading players, Betterton and Harris, carried on as directors without a break, until the opening three years later of their new playhouse, then the finest in the capital.
---Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Oct 2009 http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/7197

Bill  •  Link

Sir William Davenant, poet-laureat in the reigns of Charles I. and II. was a man of great natural and improved talents, which he unfortunately misapplied. He distinguished himself by a bold, but unsuccessful attempt to enlarge the sphere of poetry. He composed an heroic poem, called "Gondibert," in five books, after the model of the drama; applauded himself greatly upon this invention; and looked upon the followers of Homer as a timorous, servile herd, that were afraid to leave the beaten track. This performance, which is rather a string of epigrams than an epic poem, was not without its admirers, among whom were Waller and Cowley. But the success did not answer his expectation. When the novelty of it was over, it presently sunk into contempt; and he at length found, that when he strayed from Homer he deviated from nature. Ob, 7 April, 1668, Æt. 63,
---A Biographical History of England. J. Granger, 1775.

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