A GROATSWORTH OF WIT
Bought with a Million of Repentance
by ROBERT GREENE

 

Introduction

Robert Greene (1558 1592) was an English dramatist, poet, pamphleteer, rake and debauchee. He appears as a minor character in both of Anthony Burgess' Elizabethan novels Nothing Like The Sun (about Shakespeare) and A Dead Man In Deptford (about Marlowe) A graduate of Clare Hall, Cambridge, he eloped with a wealthy woman whom he abandoned after having spent all her money. He then went to London, where he lived by writing, associated with "whores, cony-catchers and lewd fellows" and spent money faster than he got it on drunkenness and debauchery. In his short life he wrote six plays, an amount of poetry and numerous pamphlets, mostly love stories and accounts of criminals and swindlers. His "Groatsworth of Wit", published posthumously, is a disguised autobiography, but is best known for the first reference in print to William Shakespeare as a playwright:

". . . there is an upstart Crow, beautified with our feathers, that with his Tiger's heart wrapped in a Players hide, supposes he is as well able to bombast out a blank verse as the best of you: and being an absolute Iohannes fac totum, is in his own conceit the only Shake-scene in a country."

 

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