Dramatis Personae: Sir John Oldcastle; the Bishop of Rochester; Clun.

Text & Context: Published anonymously in 1600, and later in 1619 with an attribution to Shakespeare, this play - unlike the Henry IVs - is actually about the Lollard John Oldcastle. At one time credited to Thomas Heywood, Philip Henslowe records its authors as Michael Drayton, Richard Hathwaye, Robert Wilson, and Edward de Vere's one-time secretary, Anthony Munday. 

 With Henry IV Part One Shakespeare's most popular printed text, this play may have been written to capitalize on its success. Or it may have been an older play resuscitated for this reason. While almost all we know about Richard Hathwaye is from Henslowe's papers, he is apparently no relation to Anne Hathaway's father, Richard Hathaway. There was an actor and occasional playwrite named Robert Wilson, known for his clown roles, who was active in the 1570s and 80s, but it it uncertain if this is the same Robert Wilson who, between 1598-1600 worked with Henslowe's stable of actors on 16 different plays. 

 

Sir John Oldcastle [part one]