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HENRY PORTER (ft. 1596-1599)

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Originally appearing in Volume V22, Page 116 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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HENRY PORTER (ft. 1596-1599), English dramatist, author of The Two Angry Women of Abingdon, may probably be identified with the Henry Porter who matriculated at Brasenose College, Oxford, on the 19th of June 1589, and is described as aged sixteen and the son of a gentleman of London. From 1596 to 1599 he was engaged in writing plays for Henslowe for the admiral's men, and his closest associate seems to have been Henry Chettle. The earlier entries in Henslowe's Diary are respectful in tone, and the considerable sums paid to " Mr Porter" prove that his plays were popular. Henslowe secured in February 1599 the sole rights of any play in which Porter had a hand, the consideration being an advance of forty shillings. As time goes on he is familiarly referred to as " Harry Porter "; his borrowings become more frequent, and the sums less, until on the 16th of April 1599 he obtained a loan of twelve pence in exchange for a bond to pay all he owed to Henslowe—twentyfive shillings—on pain of forfeiting ten pounds. Whether he paid or not does not appear, but his last loan is recorded on the 26th of May 1599, after which nothing further is known of him. It seems in the highest degree unlikely that he is the Henry Porter who took his degree as Mus. Bac. at Christ Church in 1600 after twelve years' study, and whose skill in sacred music is celebrated in an epigram by John Weever. The entries in Henslowe's Diary indicate that he wrote a play called Love Prevented (1598), Hot Anger soon Cold, with Chettle and Ben Jonson (1598), the second part of The Two Angry Women of Abingdon (1598), The Four Merry Women of Abingdon (1599), and The Spencers (1599), with Chettle. None of these are extant, unless, as has been suggested, Love Prevented is another name for The Pleasant History of the two angry women of Abingdon. With the humorous mirth of Dick Coomes and Nicholas Proverbes, two serving men (1599), the importance of which is well described by Professor Gayley: " As a comedy of unadulterated native flavour, breathing rural life and manners and the modern spirit, constructed with knowledge of the stage, and without affectation or constraint, it has no foregoing analogue except perhaps The Pinner of Wakefield. No play preceding or contemporary yields an easier conversational prose, not even the Merry Wives." Alexander Dyce edited the Angry Women for the Percy Society in 1841; and it is included in W. C. Hazlitt's edition of Dodsley's Old Plays (1874). It was edited by Havelock Ellis in Nero and other plays (1888, " Mermaid Series,") and in Representative English Comedies (1903), with an introduction by the general editor, Professor C. M. Gayley.
End of Article: HENRY PORTER (ft. 1596-1599)

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