HENSLOWE, Philip

(c. 1550-1616)
Builder of theaters and financier of companies, Philip Henslowe was a theater impresario whose "diary" or account book kept for the Lord Admiral s Men is an indispensable resource about playhouses, playwrighting, and theatrical life of the period. Son of the master of the game in Ashdown Forest, Sussex, Henslowe was apprenticed to a dyer of cloth and later married his master s widow. His marriage gave him enough money to finance acting companies, delve into mo-neylending and pawnbroking, and build theaters such as the Rose (1587) and Fortune (1600). In 1594 the Lord Admiral s Men, later the Queen s Men, took up residence at the Rose, led by actor Edward Alleyn, with Philip Henslowe, Alleyn s father-in-law, as the company s manager. Henslowe already owned a large number of plays, especially those of Christopher Marlowe,* which bene­fited the company. Under James I,* Henslowe became royal bear-master and in 1614 built the Hope, a multipurpose playhouse and baiting house. He died in 1616.
In addition to owning theaters and financing companies, Henslowe's greatest legacy was his recordkeeping. Referred to as his "diary," Henslowe s accounts for the Lord Admiral s Men from 1592 until his death in 1616 serve as a primary source documenting theatrical life of the Elizabethan period. Primarily financial, the diary includes daily entries for plays performed, box-office accounts, Hens-lowe s licensing fees for the playhouse, loans to the players to buy costumes, payments to writers, and Henslowe's system of fines for players who came to rehearsal late or drunk. Although more than half of the plays named in his records have vanished, they reveal that Henslowe processed over three hundred plays between 1592 and 1600, his company performed as many as thirty-five plays in a year, and up to forty different plays were performed in London to satisfy theatergoers. Except for William Shakespeare,* most of the dramatists of the period sold work to Henslowe. Payments to his writers suggest that plays were written in six or seven weeks and were put on in an even shorter time; from acquisition to performance could be as little as three weeks.
Bibliography
P. Henslowe, Henslowe's Diary, ed. R. A. Foakes and R. T. Rickert, 1961.
Megan S. Lloyd

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

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