Massacre leaf

The "Massacre leaf" (sometimes called the "Collier leaf") is a manuscript said to date from the 16th century containing an expanded version of [Scene 19] from The Massacre at Paris. It is not a quarto sheet, but the lower part of a folio (31.75×20.32 cm) and measures 18.1×20 cm. The paper was already in this condition when it was written on. Perhaps it was the lower part of a described folio, which was torn off to save money and continued to be used.1 The described front and back cover contains a version of lines 1 to 16 of [Scene 19]. The document and the print have 4 lines in common, but the manuscript is 13 lines longer.


Massacre leaf verso. Folger MS J.b.8(v)


In 1825 John Payne Collier published in his edition of The Jew of Malta an erroneous transcription of a manuscript of an extended scene from The Massacre at Paris, which belonged to a Mr Rodd. In 1831, Collier reprinted a transcription in History of English Dramatic Poetry that differed from the first. Now Collier claimed he owned the manuscript. In the second edition of the History of English Dramatic Poetry of 1879, Collier stated that he no longer has it. Before 1887 it came into the possession of J. O. Halliwell-Phillipps. From him it travelled to Marsden J. Perry and from him ultimately to Henry Clay Folger.2 Since then it has been in the possession of the Folger Library.

Fake or Original

After it became known that Collier liked to forge documents to prove his theories, the authenticity of the "Massacre leaf" was also questioned. In 1910, Tucker Brook was the first scientist to doubt the authenticity. W. W. Greg followed his view in 1928, while H. S. Bennet again argued for authenticity.3 After it had been possible to examine the original document, Samuel Aaron Tannenbaum came to the conclusion that the document was clearly a forgery.4 Joseph Quincy Adams contradicted this on all points. For him, it is a sketch of a scene that clearly dates from the 16th century.5 Stylistically, even Marlowe could have been the originator of these lines. So while discussions about the authenticity of the manuscript were still underway, the theory was advanced that it was not only authentic but, moreover, written by Marlowe himself.6 Even Collier had never claimed such a thing. Although it is now accepted that the document itself is not a forgery, it is not considered to be a handwriting of Christopher Marlowe.7

Maguire, Laurie E. 1996. Shakespearean Suspect Texts: The "Bad" Quartos and Their Contexts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Tannenbaum, Samuel Aaron. 1933. Shakespearean Scraps and Other Elizabethan Fragments. New York: Columbia University Press.

  1. Adams (1934)↩︎
  2. Adams (1934)↩︎
  3. Dam (1934)↩︎
  4. Tannenbaum (1933)↩︎
  5. Adams (1934)↩︎
  6. Wraight and Stern (1993); Marlowe (1973)↩︎
  7. Alton (26.04.1974); Maguire (1996)↩︎

Aktualisiert am 24.05.2024

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