Notes to Point 5: Robert Greene was involved in redrafting the play over the summer of 1592

  1. Nicholl, pp.123 - 4: Greene died on September 3rd 1592. Nashe (Strange Newes) and Cuthbert Burby (The Repentance of Robert Greene) both refer to Greene indulging in a heavy drinking session c. August 1st. (Burby said Greene fell ill after the bout and was sick 'about a moneths space' before he died: Nashe (Strange Newes) agrees it happened a month before Greene's death and admits he was present:'I and one of my fellowes...were in company with him a month before he died, at that fatall banquet of Rhenish wine and pickled hearing..' TN, i, 287, 34. Harvey in the second letter of Foure Letters and Certaine Sonnets, dated September 5th, says that on arrival at London he heard Greene '...was reported to lye dangerously sicke ... of a surfett of pickle herringe and rennish wine...': he later also refers to 'that fatal banquett of pickle herring'.)
    We don't know when Nashe left London. In Foure Letters Harvey reproached Nashe with not visiting Greene in his final days but as Nicholl says, Nashe may have already left for Croydon before Greene's illness was known to be serious. On August 6th Whitgift attended his last PC meeting before the Queen set off on progress. He and his household may have left for Croydon soon after, and it's possible Nashe went too.
  2. Nicholl, pp.135-6: Nicholl cites internal evidence indicating a production sometime between late August and October 10th, when the Queen came back from progress. Whitgift attended PC meetings at Hampton Court on the 11th and 12th October, though he returned to Croydon later in the month.
  3. Nicholl, pp.125-130
  4. TN, vol iii, p. 132, lines 19-23
  5. I thought this was an original idea but it's not - Professor C.M.Gayley (d.1932) briefly considered that Greene might have had a hand in SLW, but dismissed the idea:
    'A plea might be made for Summer's Last Will and Testament, on certain counts of R.W.'s diatribe in Martine Marsixtus, but I doubt whether it would convince.'
    Prof. Gayley adds a footnote, first quoting the relevant passage from Martine Marsixtus:
    '"What publishing of frivolous and scurrilous prognostications, as if Will Summers were again revived," etc. "And yet they shame not to subscribe 'By a graduate in Cambridge' 'In Artibus Magister.'...They are the Pharisees of our time," etc. Note the plural. But though Nashe had revived Will Somers in the L. W. and T., though he was entitled to subscribe himself "Graduate in C.," as Greene had done, and though Greene is the A.M. and intended "Pharisee", etc., the "scurrilous prognostications" are hard to find in L. W. and T. as we have it...' (Gayley, vol.i, p 424).
    Gayley didn't see any 'scurrilous prognostications' in SLW, but I certainly do.
  6. See here for these sonnets: for The Choise of Valentines see here.
  7. Sephestia's Lullaby
  8. TN, vol iii, p. 236, lines 109-110


Gayley, C. M., Representative English Comedies (London, 1930)
Nicholl, Charles, A Cup of News (London, 1984)
TN The Works of Thomas Nashe, ed. Ronald B. McKerrow (London, 1906-1910)