A Greatly Exaggerated Demise: The Remaking of the Children of Paul's as the Duke of York's Men (1608)

Brandon Centerwall

Abstract


It is a given that, for whatever reason, the Children of Paul's broke in 1608. This article, to the contrary, foregrounds the argument that, far from breaking, the highly successful Children of Paul's remade themselves into the highly successful adult acting company the Duke of York's Men for the simple reason that their players had grown too old to be any longer acceptable to audiences as 'children'. The Children of Paul's is last seen in February 1608; the Duke of York's Men first appear in October 1608 under the royal patronage of Prince Charles, Duke of York. The new adult company featured the extraordinary Joseph Taylor – later to succeed Richard Burbage as the greatest player in England – and the multi-talented William Rowley, who acted as manager, playwright and comedian for the ensemble. Evidence is presented that Taylor, Rowley and others of the Duke of York's Men were previously members of the Children of Paul's.

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