Drama Queen: Staging Elizabeth in If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody

  • Teresa Grant


Thomas Heywood’s two-part history play If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody was a run-away success: not only was Part I printed eight times and Part II five times between 1605 and 1639, but the two parts of the play continued to be given, if in slightly altered forms, well into the reign of Charles II. A comment in Pepys’s diary may account for the extreme popularity of a play noted neither for its dramatic merit nor its light literary touch:

I confess I have sucked in so much of the sad story of Queen Elizabeth, from my cradle, that I was ready to weep for her sometimes. But the play is the most ridiculous that sure ever came upon stage, and indeed, is merely a show; only, shows the true garb of the queens in those days, just as we see Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth painted — but the play is merely a puppet-play acted by living puppets. Neither the design nor language better; and one stands by and tells us the meaning of things. Only, I was pleased to see Knipp dance among the milkmaids, and to hear her sing a song to Queen Elizabeth.1


Seventeenth Century Prayer Book Prose Work Royal Exchange Famous Scene 
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  1. 1.
    Robert Latham and William Matthews, eds, The Diaries of Samuel Pepys 11 vols (1973), 8 (1667): 388.Google Scholar
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    For Elizabeth’s claims of the love of her people as a key feature of her propaganda, see Christopher Haigh, Elizabeth I (2nd edn, London, 1998), 160.Google Scholar
  3. 24.
    Curtis Perry, ‘The Citizen Politics of Nostalgia: Queen Elizabeth in Early Jacobean London’, Journal of Medieval and Renaissance Studies 23: 1 (Winter 1993 ), 89–111; 94–5.Google Scholar
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    Lisa Jardine, Still Harping On Daughters (2nd edn, London, 1989), 171.Google Scholar
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    Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed: Britain 1603–1714 (London, 1996), 82–8.Google Scholar
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    For James’s financial dealings in early parliaments, see Kishlansky, 82–8; Robert Ashton, The City and the Court, 1603–1643 (Cambridge, 1979), 83–97;Google Scholar
  8. Robert Ashton, The Crown and the Money Market (Oxford, 1960), 114–17.Google Scholar
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    Thomas Heywood, If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody Part 2 (1633; STC 13339).Google Scholar
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    Susan Frye, ‘The Myth of Elizabeth at Tilbury’, SCJ 23 (1992), 95–114.Google Scholar

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© Teresa Grant 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Teresa Grant

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