Robert Davenport - Encyclopedia Britannica 1911




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ROBERT DAVENPORT (fl. 1623-1639), English dramatist, is mentioned as the author of a play licensed in 1624 under the title of Henry I. In 1653 Henry I. and Henry II. was entered at Stationers' Hall by Humphrey Moseley with a second part said to be the work of Davenport and Shakespeare. Of this play or plays nothing has been discovered, but King John and Matilda (printed 1655), which probably dates from about the same time, has survived. Throughout the play, as in its closing scene quoted by Charles Lamb in his Dramatic Specimens, there is much "passion and poetry" which saves the piece from being classed as pure melodrama. The City-Night-Cap was licensed in 1624, but not printed until 1661. The underplot of this unsavoury play was borrowed from Cervantes and Boccaccio, and Mrs Aphra Behn's Amorous Prince (1671) is an adaptation from it. A New Tricke to Cheat the Divell (printed 1639) is a farcical comedy, which contains among other things the idea of the popular supper story which reappears in Hans Andersen's Little Claus and Big Claus. As told by Davenport the story closely resembles the Scottish Freires of Berwick, which was printed in 1603. Three other plays entered in the Stationers' Register as Davenport's are lost, and he collaborated in two plays with Thomas Drue.

Davenport's plays were reprinted by A. H. Bullen in Old English Plays (new series, 1890). The volume includes two didactic poems, which first saw the light in 1623.

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