Porter, Henry (DNB00)

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PORTER, HENRY (fl. 1599), dramatist, is frequently referred to in Henslowe's ‘Diary’ between 16 Dec. 1596 and 26 May 1599. On 30 May 1598 Henslowe paid 4l. to Thomas Dowton and Mr. Porter for the play called ‘Love Prevented.’ On 18 Aug. 1598 Henslowe bought the play called ‘Hot Anger soon Cold,’ by Porter, Chettle, and Jonson. On 22 Dec. 1598 he bought the second part of Porter's ‘Two Angry Women of Abington.’ On 28 Feb. 1599 Porter promised Henslowe all his compositions, whether written alone or in collaboration, for a loan of 40s., being earnest-money for his ‘Two Merry Women of Abington.’ On 4 March 1599 Henslowe paid for ‘The Spencers’ by Porter and Chettle. Many small money advances followed. Francis Meres, in his ‘Palladis Tamia’ (1598), mentions Porter as a leading dramatist. One of Weever's epigrams (1598), addressed ‘ad Henricum Porter,’ describes a man of mature age, but he is probably addressing another Henry Porter who graduated bachelor of music from Christ Church, Oxford, in July 1600, and was father of Walter Porter [q. v.]

Of the five plays mentioned above, the only one extant is ‘The Pleasant Historie of the two Angrie Women of Abington. With the humorous mirth of Dick Coomes and Nicholas Proverbes, two Serving men. As it was lately playde by the Right Honorable the Earle of Nottingham, Lord High Admirall, his servants. By Henry Porter, Gent.,’ London, 1599, 4to. A second edition, in quarto, was issued in the same year. The play has been edited by Alexander Dyce for the Percy Society in 1841, by William Carew Hazlitt, in vol. vii. of Dodsley's ‘Old Plays’ (4th edit. 1874), and by Mr. Havelock Ellis in ‘Nero and other Plays,’ Mermaid Series, 1888. Charles Lamb gave extracts from it among his selections from the ‘Garrick Plays’ (Bohn's edit. 1854, p. 432), and judged it ‘no whit inferior to either the “Comedy of Errors” or the “Taming of the Shrew.” … Its night scenes are peculiarly sprightly and wakeful, the versification unencumbered, and rich with compound epithets.’

[Hunter's Chorus Vatum, ii. 302 (Addit. MS. 24488); Fleay's Biographical Chron. of the English Drama, 1559–1642, ii. 162; Fleay's Hist. of the Stage, p. 107; and editions of Dyce, Hazlitt, and Ellis quoted above.]

R. B.