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.
David Kathman is an independent scholar in Chicago, Illinois. His research on the biographies of early modern actors, playwrights, and patrons has resulted in the online Biographical Index of British Drama Before 1660 , intended as a precursor to a larger work, as well as 37 articles in the forthcoming Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. His recent research on boy actors and the apprenticeship system in the pre-Restoration English theatre has uncovered much new archival information, described in forthcoming articles in Shakespeare Quarterly and Shakespeare Survey. He is also the assistant editor of the New Variorum Shakespeare Poems (with Donald Foster), co-creator of the Shakespeare Authorship website , and writer of 'The Question of Authorship' for Shakespeare: An Oxford Guide (2003).
'Reconsidering The Seven Deadly Sins'.
7.1 (2004): 13-44 (paper). Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.mcmaster.ca/earlytheatre/vol7/iss1/2