The Honest Man's Fortune

This edition of The Honest Man's Fortune, a play co-written by John Fletcher, Nathan Field, and Philip Massinger for the Lady Elizabeth's Men in 1613 and revived for the King's Men in 1625, is the first diplomatic edition of one of the most remarkable dramatic manuscripts of the early modern period. Almost uniquely, the fair-copy manuscript records the entire process of the circular transmission of the text from authors to censor to bookkeeper to actors to playhouse, as well as the types of revision each required. In the hand of Edward Knight, the King's Men's book-keeper, this manuscript's title-page notes that it was '/Plaide In the yeare 1613/' and contains one of the few surviving complete licences by Master of the Revels Sir Henry Herbert who states, 'This Play. Being an olde One and the Originall Lost was reallowd by mee. This: 8 febru. 1624 [i.e., 1625]'. In fact, Herbert accepted as payment for the new licence a printed edition of Sir Philip Sidney's /Arcadia/. More excitingly, the many cuts, deletions, and marginal and interlinear additions and revisions as well as the names of three actors in its stage directions show us two transmissions of this text: the first in 1613, when it was composed and licensed and then adjusted by the authors, and the second in 1625, when it went through almost the same process for revival. With a full discussion of the manuscript's material properties, provenance, transcription history, and the play's composition and performance history, this new edition of /The Honest Man's Fortune/ puts the play where it belongs: at the centre of the canon of Jacobean drama.