15 Likely Facts about Henry Condell

 Kempe (SPENCER JONES), Burbage (STEVE SPEIRS), Condell (DOMINIC COLEMAN) – (C) BBC – Photographer: Colin Hutton

Friend of the fan site @ChasquiPenguin has complied another ‘Likely Facts’ article! This time on Henry Condell, the actor thought usually to have taken Shakespeare’s female roles. He and John Heminges said of Shakespeare in their publishing of the first folio:

‘Read him, therefore; and again, and again: and if you do not like him, surely you are in some manifest danger, not to understand him.”

Henry Condell
(15 Likely Facts about his Personal and Theatre Life)
Personal Life
1. Henry Condell is believed to have been born in Norwich, and baptised on 5th September 1576.
2. His parents were probably fishmonger Robert Condell and his wife Joan (née Yeomans), both from the Norwich area.
3. In 1596 Henry married Elizabeth Smart at the church of St Laurence Pountney in the City of London. The church burnt down in the Great Fire of London and the parish was united with St Mary Abchurch.
4. Henry and Elizabeth Condell lived in the parish of St Mary Aldermanbury and he served as a churchwarden there.
5. Henry and Elizabeth had nine children, only three of whom, Elizabeth, Henry and William, survived to adulthood.
6. During his acting career he obviously made enough money to buy houses in Fulham (which was then in Middlesex) and Gloucestershire.
7. Henry died in Fulham, aged 51, and was buried on 29th December 1627 at St Mary Aldermanbury, with his widow buried there on 3rd October 1635.
8. Henry Condell is said to have left a large estate, including shares in The Globe Theatre and Blackfriars Theatre.
9. There is a memorial to Henry Condell and John Heminges in the former churchyard of St Mary Aldermanbury – now a public garden.
Theatre Life
10. Although 12 years younger than Shakespeare, Henry Condell could have been acting in 1590 (aged 13–14), with John Heminges and Augustine Phillips.
11. Although little information is available on the roles he played, Condell was known as one of the “Principall Players” in Shakespeare’s plays, along with Richard Burbage, William Kempe and Shakespeare himself.
12. He also performed in many of Ben Jonson’s plays.
13. He seems to have had friendships with many in the acting world, including Shakespeare who named him, John Heminges and Richard Burbage in his will.
14. Henry Condell seems to have retired from acting in 1619.
15. Together with John Heminges, Henry Condell compiled and edited Shakespeare’s First Folio, with the Preface by Ben Jonson. This was published in 1623 and contains 36 of Shakespeare’s plays, though none of his sonnets or poems.

The above details are correct to the best of my ability but please let me know if you notice any inaccuracies. Twitter: @ChasquiPenguin


Guest Stars for Upstart Crow Series 3

The Velvet Onion

Guest stars have been announced for the third series of Ben Elton’s Upstart Crow which is being filmed now.

Upstart Crow © BBC/Colin Hutton

The new series, which is due to air later this year, will include guest appearances from Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer, as well as Montserat Lombard, Beattie Edmondson and Ben Miller. Kenneth Branagh and Lily Cole will appear in a 2018 Christmas special.

The usual cast of David Mitchell, Gemma Whelan, Tim Downie, Mark Heap, Harry Enfield, Paula Wilcox, Liza Tarbuck, Helen Monks, Rob Rouse, Dominic Coleman, Spencer Jones, Steve Speirs and Jocelyn Jee Esien are all returning for the new series.

The BBC describes what we can expect from series 3 as follows…

‘Containing turbulent workplace politicks behind the scenes at the first ever performance of Julius Cæſar; a mischievous puckish sprite with a magic love potion who lurketh in the woods around Stratford; prejudice that forestalls…

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All The Places to catch David this Christmas + 20 more Upstart Crow facts!


2017’s David Mitchell Christmas bonanza starts this Monday with a Christmas Would I Lie To You? on BBC1 at the later time of 9.30pm. The show will then reappear in the schedules on December 29th on BBC1 this time back at 8.30pm.


Then on Christmas day we are treated to the most fantastic Upstart Crow Christmas special. I was lucky enough to be in the audience and it really was something amazingly special, something truly deserving to take pride of place in BBC 2’s Christmas schedule (which it does). A Christmassy Crow is on at 8.25pm on Christmas day on BBC2. It’s got a special 5 minute extra running time and as you’re no doubt aware it guest stars Emma Thompson.


Then on Boxing Day David is on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year 2017 with Jimmy Carr, Richard Ayoade, Roisin Conaty, Noel Fielding, Big Narstie and Katherine Ryan. That’s at 9.00pm on C4.

Now I hand you over to my good friend @ChasquiPenguin for 20 Upstart Crow facts about the real life Burbage:


James Burbage

20 Facts on his Personal Life and Theatre Life

Personal Life

  1. James Burbage was born around 1531 – probably in Bromley, Kent, though there is a theory that he was born in Stratford-upon-Avon.
  2. He was primarily a joiner but also a builder, actor, impresario and theatre owner.
  3. James Burbage married Ellen Brayne on 23rd April 1559 and they had 4 children: Cuthbert, Richard, Ellen and Alice.
  4. Cuthbert became a theatre manager while his younger brother, Richard, became one of the most famous actors of the day, playing a number of lead roles in Shakespeare’s plays, including Romeo, Richard III and Hamlet.
  5. James Burbage died in 1597 and on 2nd February that year was laid to rest in St Leonard’s Church in Shoreditch, where other actors of the Tudor era were buried.

 Theatre Life

  1. James Burbage was a member of and leading actor in Leicester’s Men, whose patron was Robert Dudley, 1st Earl of Leicester, the troupe having been established in 1572, though Burbage later gave up acting to concentrate on theatre management.
  2. James Burbage, with his partner and brother-in-law, John Brayne (c1541–1586), built one of London’s first permanent playhouses: The Theatre, in Curtain Road, Shoreditch. This is said to have cost £700 to construct – a large sum of money for Tudor times.
  3. In Elizabethan times actors were considered with suspicion, often as layabouts or vagabonds, and in 1574 James Burbage was the first Englishman to be granted a theatrical licence.
  4. The Theatre opened in 1576 and was dedicated solely to plays and long-running productions.
  5. Prior to this The Red Lion had been built by John Brayne in Whitechapel. Whether James Burbage had any dealings with this is unclear, but this theatre was for travelling companies only, opening in 1567 and closing in 1568.
  6. The Theatre was host to a number of theatrical companies, including The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, who employed Shakespeare as an actor and playwright.
  7. Because of the huge expense of building The Theatre, plays were staged during its construction to help pay the costs.
  8. It is understood that Burbage consulted Dr John Dee, considered to be a magician and alchemist, on the design of The Theatre for his knowledge of architecture.
  9. Little is known about the appearance of The Theatre but it had a cobbled yard and was described as an amphitheatre with a large stage and numerous props. Cannon could be fired and often had to remain on stage throughout the performance. There was also facility for smoke, fireworks and flying entrances.
  10. After a dispute with the landlord, The Theatre was dismantled, its timbers being used to build The Globe Theatre in Southwark. Under the lease, dismantling was permitted though the Burbage brothers, with William Shakespeare and others, are said to have carried this out in darkness on 28th December 1598.
  11. Although The Globe Theatre had been the vision of James Burbage, he did not live to see its opening in 1599 nor its construction, but his sons, as well as Shakespeare, were among the shareholders. It is not definitely known which play was the first to be performed there; Shakespeare’s “Henry V” (in the spring) and “Julius Caesar” (on 21st September) are both listed as likely, along with Jonson’s “Every Man out of His Humour” (at the end of the year).
  12. The first Globe theatre burned down in 1613, following a cannon misfiring and setting light to the timbers and thatching. There was just one casualty – a man whose breeches caught fire, being extinguished by a bottle of ale. The theatre was rebuilt and opened the following year.
  13. The Blackfriars Theatre was a short-lived, failed venture by James Burbage. In 1596 he purchased the property, a former Dominican priory, for £600, intending to open it to stage plays during the winter. However, there was much local opposition to this plan and instead it was leased to a troupe of boy players who disbanded in 1608.
  14. During the Elizabethan era plays were usually performed in the daytime due to lack of light into the evening.
  15. In 2008 archaeologists from the Museum of London unearthed the foundations of a polygonal structure which is believed to be the NE corner of The Theatre. A new theatre has been planned for the site, with a small part of the original wall being retained for the new playhouse.


The above details are correct to the best of my ability but please let me know if you notice any inaccuracies.

Twitter: @ChasquiPenguin

15 Likely Facts about Greene to Celebrate Upstart Crow’s 3rd series and 2nd Christmas Special commission

landscape-1506981445-noel1.jpgIt would hardly have escaped any David Mitchell fan’s attention that Upstart Crow was immediately re-commissioned for a third series just as the second one ended. But what a lot of people missed was the fact that a second Christmas Special has been commissioned for 2018! Read more about it here:


To celebrate this marvelous news my good twitter friend and historian, @Chasqui Penguin, has written another interesting facts article (although she stresses they are not completely proven facts) all about Will’s Upstart Crow nemesis, and just as likely real life nemesis, Robert Greene:

Upstart Crow - Generics

Robert Greene


15 Likely Facts on the Tudor Writer


There are few certain details on Robert Greene’s birth, life and death. With records not readily available and the far-from-unusual name he had, it is difficult for historians to discover exact information on the Tudor writer but below are a few likely facts I have gathered together during my amateur researching. Any corrections or updates on these will be gratefully received and I apologise for any inaccuracies given below, which are inadvertent.


  1. Robert Greene is believed to have been born in Norwich, probably in 1558.


  1. In line with the above, his baptismal date is recorded as 11th July 1558.


  1. He is thought to have been the son of either a saddler or a cordwainer turned innkeeper, but either way it is believed he came from a family of tradesmen.


  1. Robert is believed to have been educated at Norwich Grammar School but no documents survive to confirm this.


  1. He is known to have attended St John’s College, at Cambridge University, from where he gained his BA in 1580 but was not among the top students, being listed as graduating 38th out of 41 in his college and 115th out of 205 at the university.


  1. He is known to have gained an MA in 1583 but it is unclear from which college or university as reports claim he moved to Clare College, Cambridge for this course (an unusual step as postgraduates generally remained at the same college for their second degree) and, even more unusually, moved to Oxford University.


  1. It is understood he married a lady called Dorothy by whom he had a son but, soon after the baby’s birth, he left them for the sister of a criminal who was hanged at Tyburn.


  1. By his mistress he is thought to have had a son called Fortunatus.


  1. On moving to London, Robert Greene was probably the first person ever to earn a living as a writer.


  1. He published more than 25 works in prose, some of which were probably pamphlets, for which he is well known, plus a number of plays including “Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay”, “The Scottish History of James IV”, “Alphonsus” and, possibly, “A Knack to Catch a Knave”.


  1. He is also being considered as a co-writer of Shakespeare’s “Titus Andronicus” and is said to have influenced the later writings of The Bard.


  1. He is most famous for his pamphlet “A Groats-worth of Witte, Bought with a Million of Repentance” which contained his supposed reference to Shakespeare, a then jobbing actor and aspiring writer, describing him as an “Upstart Crow”. This was published posthumously, and it is understood that this was Greene’s request.


  1. He also criticised other fellow writers: Marlowe, Peele and Nashe.


  1. Some of Greene’s writing seems to have been undertaken as an autobiography and he claimed to have travelled widely across Europe, though there is no evidence of this and the autobiographical claims may well have been exaggerated.


  1. He is thought to have died on 3rd September 1592 from “a surfeit of pickle herring and Rennish wine” and there is an unconfirmed report that he asked for a laurel wreath to be placed on his head as he died.

And as a bonus I’ve added what is believed to be the only picture we have of Greene. It’s a woodcut depicting him writing about Shakespeare from his shroud.


Upstart Crow – 30 Facts and Rumours about The Real Kit Marlowe


Here’s a treat for all us Upstart Crow fans! After my attempts last year at compiling 50 historical Upstart Crow facts for the fansite, (Here’s a link to that if you fancy a read: Upstart Crow Trivia) my friend, who has asked me if she can be credited using her twitter handle: Chasqui Penguin, who is a proper historian and an expert on all things Christopher Marlowe, has kindly supplied me with a list of fascinating facts she has compiled that you may not have known about Upstart Crow’s lovable rogue Kit Marlowe! Here they are:


Christopher (Kit) Marlowe – 30 Facts (and Rumours)


  1. Christopher (Kit) Marlowe was born in Canterbury to shoemaker, John Marlowe and his wife Katherine, their second child and eldest son.


  1. He was baptised on Saturday, 26th February 1564 at the church of St George the Martyr, opposite the house, thought to be the Marlowes’ home, in St George’s Lane.


  1. It is likely he was born in the preceding few days, though his exact date of birth is unknown. It was customary then for babies to be baptised soon after birth as infant mortality rates were high.


  1. Kit’s older sister, Mary, died at the age of six in 1568.


  1. His parents had nine children, six of whom lived to adulthood.


  1. Kit grew up surrounded by younger sisters. Two brothers died in early infancy and the youngest child, Thomas, was born in 1576 when Kit was 12. His sister, Jane, is thought to have died in January 1583, aged 13, possibly in childbirth, having married John Moore, at the age of 12 in April 1582.


  1. At the age of 14 Kit gained a scholarship to Canterbury’s King’s School (opened by Henry VIII). There has been speculation that his fees were paid by Sir Roger Manwood, a senior judge and philanthropist, also from Kent. On his death in 1592, Kit wrote an elegy to him in Latin.


  1. As a pupil at the King’s School, Kit is said to have sung in the choir of the nearby Canterbury Cathedral.


  1. In 1580 Kit gained The Matthew Parker Scholarship enabling him to further his studies at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge University, where he gained his BA in 1584 and his MA in 1587.


  1. This scholarship was inaugurated by Matthew Parker, the Archbishop of Canterbury from 1559 till his death in 1575, and intended for those wishing to study Theology.


  1. The only known genuine extant sample of Kit’s writing is his 1585 signature, on the will of Katherine Benchkin, below his father’s.


  1. The handwritten and unpublished extract from “Massacre at Paris” (known as the Collier Leaf) has not been proved authentic and could be the work of a forger.


  1. Kit is believed to have been recruited as a spy for the government of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I, while still at Cambridge. In fact, his long absences from his college nearly resulted in his being denied his MA, but a letter written by members of the Privy Council explained he had been working for her Majesty’s Government during his time away from his studies and, as a result, he was awarded his Master of Arts degree.


  1. Records, still extant at Cambridge University, reveal that after his lengthy absences in his post-graduate years, Kit returned and spent lavishly on food and drink in The Buttery, an unaffordable expense on just his scholarship income.


  1. While at Cambridge Kit translated Ovid’s Amores from Latin into English. These were later published under the name “Ovid’s Elegies”.


  1. On leaving Cambridge with his MA, Kit appears to have continued to lead a double life – as a very successful playwright and as a part-time spy for Queen Elizabeth’s government. There is no written evidence to support the latter but it is widely believed that he spent some of his time engaged in such shady activities and this may have provided him with enough spare time to write as well.


  1. Kit is said to have liked to wear fine clothes and, once he was earning money, would choose velvets and was often elaborately dressed.


  1. In 1952 a portrait of an ornately dressed young man, with the Latin inscription “Aged 21 in 1585” was found during refurbishments at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. It was renovated and is considered to be of Kit, although there is no definite evidence. There are also other portraits said to be of him but it seems likely the mystery of his appearance will remain unless a portrait can be verified as being of Christopher Marlowe, Cambridge Scholar and Tudor Dramatist.


  1. Kit was a poet, playwright and translator, as well as being a leading exponent of blank verse in iambic pentameter (followed by his contemporary, William Shakespeare).


  1. Kit’s works include the poems “The Passionate Shepherd to his Love” and “Hero and Leander”, his translations “Ovid’s Elegies” and “Lucan’s First Book of the Civil War” (known as “Pharsalia”) and his plays, which were all performed in his lifetime, “Dido, Queen of Carthage”, “Tamburlaine the Great”, “Tamburlaine Part II”, “The Jew of Malta”, “Doctor Faustus”, “Edward II” and “Massacre at Paris”.


  1. There are other plays and poems which he is thought to have written but no proof of authorship exists and so more Marlowe Mysteries are added to the others.


  1. The leading actor in the original performances of “Tamburlaine the Great”, “Tamburlaine Part II”, “Doctor Faustus” and “The Jew of Malta” was Edward Alleyn, a tall man and imposing actor whose theatrical abilities enhanced the roles Marlowe had created.


  1. It is believed that a secret club (nicknamed School of Night) was formed which attracted the interest of the Tudor free-thinkers, such as Henry Percy, Ninth Earl of Northumberland, Walter Raleigh, Thomas Hariot and Christopher Marlowe. They are said to have met to discuss the Arts and Sciences but there is no proof that this club actually existed.


  1. On 30th May 1593, while at a “safe house” in Deptford, South London, Kit is said to have been murdered, following an argument with Ingram Frizer over a matter of money, either an unpaid debt or the cost of a meal bill.


  1. Kit was also said to have been buried in an unmarked grave in the nearby churchyard of St Nicholas. Today there is a memorial stone placed in the wall of the churchyard which claims he was buried there and below is a quote from “Doctor Faustus”.


  1. At the time of his alleged murder, Marlowe was on bail, having been arrested on 20th May 1593 for the crime of atheism and if found guilty the punishment could have led to execution.


  1. The Marlovian Theory contends that his murder never occurred and he was sent into exile for his protection, with various reasons given for this conclusion, including the suggestion that he wrote Shakespeare’s plays post-1593. However, there is no definite evidence to prove the Marlovian Theory, although there are some plausible ideas surrounding it.


  1. In 2016 Oxford University scholars concluded that all three parts of “Henry VI” had been co-written by William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe (pre-1593) and now both their names appear on copies of The Oxford University Press publication.


  1. The house where Kit is believed to have been born (and lived during his early life), as well as the church where he was baptised, stood for centuries but were both flattened by a German bomb in 1942. However, the church clock tower escaped and still stands today, with a blue plaque dedicated to Kit. On the site of the Marlowes’ home is the Canterbury branch of Fenwicks, and the Marlowe Society is in discussion with the department store’s owners regarding a Christopher Marlowe memorial.


  1. Modern day Canterbury has not forgotten its most famous writer, with The Marlowe Theatre, and nearby a late Victorian statue dedicated to him and his plays (sculpted in bronze by Edward Onslow Ford) to be found in the city. His old school has remembered him, naming one of their school houses after him, and the town planners have noted his fame with Marlowe Road and Marlowe Avenue, not to mention Tamburlaine Court and Marlowe Court.



To the best of my knowledge the above points are correct but please accept my apologies for any inaccuracies. I am indebted to a variety of sources, including the Marlowe Society’s excellent website, which gives so much information on Kit’s life and works, and any errors in the above are entirely from my misunderstanding. Therefore, for fuller details on Christopher Marlowe, I would recommend visiting: http://www.marlowe-society.org/




And now for something completely different – My convoluted ‘Back’ twist theory

vlcsnap-2017-09-18-01h23m51s254.pngWhat’s Andrew’s secret in ‘Back’? Let me hijack the fansite for a moment to bring you my theory: I propose to you that Andrew Thomas Donnelly is in fact the real Stephen Nichols. Dun dun duhhhhhhhhhh!

Firstly is Stephen a foster child? Well I think he is. Obviously he was surrounded by foster children throughout his childhood, so much so that he has ‘no memories of Andrew’ which I think is a very important fact. Stephen is nothing like his family and his personality seems to be at odds with them all. Andrew was with the Nichols for 5 months, ‘the happiest of his life’ odd that he was moved on so quickly considering he was Ellen’s ‘favourite foster child’. I think during this time Andrew and Stephen became very close, in fact I don’t think Andrew was called Andrew at this time. I think he was also called Stephen.


So there were these two Stephens in amongst a sea of other foster kids. The Nichols, although loving, certainly don’t seem to be the most clued up bunch to be capable of keeping track of all their foster children. Stephen, adopted at a very young age, would have been wantonly oblivious to the fact that he might also be a foster child himself, and the Stephen we know as Andrew may have become aware that one of them was about to be ‘moved on’ while the other adopted into the Nichols family. So what does Andrew do? I believe he finds a way to swap their identities to give his beloved brother a better shot at a happy life totally unbeknownst to our oblivious Stephen.

vlcsnap-2017-09-07-23h48m44s27.pngSo does Ellen know about Andrew’s true identity as the real Stephen now? The son they intended to adopt? I believe she does. In episode one Ellen tells Stephen Andrew was ‘in touch with Laurie on Facebook’. I think during this time Andrew reached out to the Nichols family. On Facebook Andrew explained what he did as a child and as a result ‘Andrew’ gets left 5% of the John Barleycorn and is welcomed back with open arms as we’ve seen, on the condition perhaps that he won’t tell Stephen the truth.

Why would ‘Andrew’ do this? Well we know Andrew to be desperate to please people and although he seems furtive now, at 10 years old a simple genuine love for his brother could easily have spurred him on to do this. Although Andrew comes across to us as dangerous and unstable, he’s actually very passive to Stephen. But he also wants his place in the family. His place ‘Back’ in the family I would say, his place as what he should have been all along – the Nichol’s adopted son.

I’ve run two polls on the fan site twitter after each episode asking simply: Is Andrew evil? They both came back with a roughly 80% Yes result. (We had about 50 votes each time by the way! Cheers for the support guys!) So is it that simple? I think Andrew has certainly done some bad things. It’s been hotly debated if he did actually intend to kill that man on the plane in episode 1. He appears to be a con man as his attempts to impress and help rarely have any substance behind them and I have no theories as to what the ‘missing 18 months’ are about. There must be a reason Andrew came back to the Nichols, something he’s running away from…

Okay let’s look at the series finale’s plot synopsis from the channel 4 press office:Capture

A revelation that will change everything? Implying something that will change Stephen’s life as well as Andrew’s? To me it feels like this would be the ultimate irony for Stephen: He spends the entire series believing Andrew is trying to steal his life and in the end, it turns out that all along he stole Andrew’s.

But that’s just my theory. I  want your theories! If you have a theory then get in touch with us!vlcsnap-2017-08-26-00h05m31s213.png

Upstart Crow – The Green Eyed Monster – Tonight at 8:30pm!


Episode one: The Green Eyed Monster

Will has to contend with the sneering rivalry of Robert Greene (Mark Heap) and the demands of having to churn out hits for a theatre company full of needy egos (played by Steve Speirs, Spencer Jones and Dominic Coleman), while at the same time facing one hell of a commute, back and forth to see the family in Stratford-upon-Avon, home of his wife Anne (Liza Tarbuck), stroppy teenage daughter Susannah (Helen Monks), his young twins, and his parents – dodgy dealing Dad (Harry Enfield) and posh-family-gone-to-seed mum (Paula Wilcox).

To make matters worse he has to contend with the Tudor public transport system that is almost as bad as the one we have today. Helping him keep it all together are his servant Bottom (Rob Rouse), his friend and would-be actress Kate (Gemma Whelan) and his dashing and not terribly trustworthy best friend Kit Marlowe (Tim Downie).

This week an African Prince is in town and Will decides that befriending him is the perfect opportunity to make his way into smarter social circles. But somebody is trying to turn Prince Otello (Steve Toussaint) against him. 624

This was actually the last episode recorded and another one I was very fortunate to be in the audience for. It’s a real classic, Highlights I particularly remember are Will’s sneezing fit and Greene’s genius expression for being clumsy. Don’t miss it Mitchell fans!

‘Back To The Bard’ – Upstart Crow press clippings

Next week’s TV guides reveal a bit about the new series of Upstart Crow, including a very interesting tidbit about a possible future cameo by Robert Webb and an interesting article by Ben Elton in the Radio Times. You can read them below:

IMG_20170905_0005IMG_20170905_0004IMG_20170905_0001IMG_20170905_0001 (2)

Meanwhile in other David Mitchell themed news people have been talking about David confirming a new series of Peep Show today. This is misleading at best. David has said exactly the same thing Mitchell and Webb were saying back in 2015 when they were doing press interviews for the last series of Peep Show: The show will possibly return in ten years or more to revisit the characters in an older guise. So there are no plans for an immediate return of Peep Show as some online articles have implied.