HENSLOWE, PHILIP (d. 1616), English theatrical manager, was the son of Edmund Henslowe of Lindfield, Sussex, master of the game in Ashdown Forest and Broil Park. He was originally a servant in the employment of the bailiff to Viscount Montague, whose property included Montague House in Southwark, and his duties led him to settle there before 1577. He subsequently married the bailiff's widow, and, with the fortuen he got with her, he developed into a clever business man and became a considerable owner of Southwark property. He started his connection with the stage when, on the 24th of March 1584, he bought land near what is now the southern end of Southwark Bridge, on which stood the Little Rose Playhouse, afterward rebuilt as the Rose. Successive companies played in it under Henslowe's financial management between 1592 and 1603. The theatre at Newington Butts was also under his management in 1594. A share of the control of the Swan theatre, which like the Rose was on the bankside, fell to Henslowe before the close of the 16th century. With the actor Edward Alleyn, who married his step-daughter Joan Woodward, he built in Golden Lane, Cripplegate Without, the Fortune Playhouse, which opened in November 1600. In December of 1594, they had secured the Paris Garden, a place for bear-baiting, on the Bankside, and in 1604 they bought the office of the master of the royal game of bears, bulls and mastiffs from the holder, and obtained a patent. Alleyn sold his share to Henslowe in February 1610, and three years later Henslowe formed a new partnership with Jacob Meade and built the Hope playhouse, designed for stage performances as well as bull and bear-baiting, and managed by Meade.
In Henslowe's theatres were first produced many plays by the famous Elizabethan dramatists. What is known as "Henslowe's Diary" contains some accounts referring to Ashdown Forest between 1576 and 1581, entered by John Henslowe, while the later entries by Philip Henslowe from 1592 to 1609 are those which throw light on the theatrical matters of the time, and which have been subjected to much controversial criticism as a result of injuries done to the manuscript. "Henslowe's Diary" passed into the hands of Edward Alleyn, and thence into the Library of Dulwich College, where the manuscript remained intact for more than a hundred and fifty years. In 1780 Malone tried to borrow it, but it had been mislaid; in 1790 it was discovered and given into his charge. He was then at work on his Variorum Shakespeare. Malone had a transcript made of certain portions, and collated it with the original; and this transcript, with various notes and corrections by Malone, is now in the Dulwich Library. An abstract of this transcript he also published with his Variorum Shakespeare. The MS. of the diary was eventually returned to the library in 1812 by Malone's executor. In 1840 it was lent to J.P. Collier, who in 1845 printed for the Shakespeare Society what purported to be a full edition, but it was afterwards shown by G.F. Warner (Catalogue of the Dulwich Library, 1881) that a number of forged interpolations have been made, the responsibility for which rests on Collier.
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