I know, I know. We started imagining what would go into Nashe’s shopping basket, but I think we can safely assume that he wouldn’t be having his 450th birthday party at his place. Thomas Middleton certainly doesn’t think Nashe would have lived in salubrious surroundings. In The Blacke Booke (1604)Nashe’s persona Pierce Penilesse is renting a room in a brothel. The visitor
“stumbled up two payre of stayres in the darke, but at last caught in mine eyes the sullen blaze of a melancholy lampe, that burnt very tragically uppon the narrow Deske o a halfe Bedstead, which descryed all the pittifull Ruines throughout the whole chamber, the bare privities of the stone-walls were hid with two pieces of painted Cloth; but so ragged and tottred, that one might haue seene all neuerthelesse…The Testerne or the shadow over the bed was made of foure Elles of Cobwebs, and a number of small Spinners Ropes hung downe for Curtaines… in this unfortunate Tyring-house lay poore Pierce uppon a Pillow stuffed with horse meat, the sheets smudged so dirtily, as if they had been stolen by night out of Saint Pulcher’s churchyard when the sexton had left a grave open.” (sigs. D1r-v)
A dying king summons his old retainers, to take stock of his kingdom and to appoint his successor. He finds, to his horror, that his motley band of servants has betrayed his trust, and squandered his bounty on fripperies. He rages, as their reverence resolves into contempt, and as sickness wracks his body. He realises, too late, that he has ta’en too little care of his kingdom; now he must hand it over to men he despises.
Thomas Kilroy is one of Ireland’s leading dramatists and the author of a series of important plays, including Double Cross (1986), which juxtaposes the stories of Brendan Bracken (1901-58), Minister for Information during the Second World War, and William Joyce, ‘Lord Haw Haw’ (1906-46), who served as the principal Nazi propaganda broadcaster, and was executed for treason. Both were Irish. He is also the author of Tea and Sex and Shakespeare (1976), about a struggling writer battling his dysfunctional imagination; The Madame MacAdam Travelling Theatre (1991), a comedy about theatre companies touring Ireland in the Second World War; The Secret Fall of Constance Wilde (1997), and a number of other works. He was play editor at the Abbey Theatre Dublin for much of his distinguished career, as well as professor of English at Galway; was a director of the Field Day Company, which sought to provide imaginative ways of overcoming sectarianism in Northern Ireland, alongside Stephen Rea and Brian Friel, and was director of its touring company. The Abbey Theatre is hosting a week’s development workshop of a new play, The Trials of William Shakespeare, in November, conducted by Max Stafford Clark, and a revival of Double Cross is planned for next year in a joint production of the Abbey and the Lyric Theatre, Belfast. As a young student at University College Dublin he wrote an MA thesis on Thomas Nashe, ‘Satirical Elements in the Prose of Thomas Nashe’ (1959) and he was kind enough to answer my questions on the influence he thinks Nashe had on his writing career.
The second guide to digitised copies of Nashe, this time examining the two editions of Nashe’s first big hit, Pierce Penilesse (1592).
While the first guide to Have with you to Saffron Walden identifies some of the visually striking features of that work, today I will make use of the fact that the Folger Library has digitised two different editions of Pierce Penilesse, to illustrate how Nashe and his publishers made changes to the text, over five different editions. These variances between different copies of the same text matter to the Nashe Project, because in each case, the editor will need to decide which choice of words to present in their new edition, and which to relegate to the footnotes, affecting the way that modern readers will be approaching this book.
This is my first guide to the digitised copies of Nashe’s early editions which are available open-access online.
This copy of Have with you to Saffron-Walden (1596) is held at one of our project’s academic partners, theFolger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C. Last year I visited the library on a research fellowship, which you can read about here, on the Folger’s blog The Collation. At the bottom of this page, you’ll find a link to Have with you, plus the woodcut of Nashe in The Trimming of Thomas Nashe (1597), and a few pages from John Danter’s edition of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet (1597).
Nashe may have written his most famous work The Unfortunate Traveller (1594) about the dangers of continental travel, but his own travels were limited to England, as this interactive map shows.
You can zoom in and out of the map (using the buttons on the lower left corner) and click on the pins to find out more about Nashe’s published texts and significant life events. The pins are colour-coded to indicate different years, from dark maroons and reds at the start of his writing career, through to blue in his final years.
Or you can trace Nashe’s life in and out of print, by clicking on the button on the top left corner, which will bring up a time-line of Nashe’s career.
Making a personalised map of a historical figure is surprisingly easy, if you want to give it a go yourself! Just go to the ‘my maps’ feature on Google maps for instructions. You can suggest any additional Nashean adventures that I could add to this map in the comments.