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George Wilkins

From Academic Kids

George Hubert Wilkins (fl. 1607) was an English dramatist and pamphleteer.

He is first heard of as the author of a pamphlet on the Three Miseries of Barbary, which probably dates from 1604.

He collaborated in 1607 with William Rowley and John Day in The Travailes of the Three English Brothers, a dramatisation of the adventures of the real-life Sherley brothers.

In the same year a play was produced which was apparently entirely Wilkins's work. It is The Miseries of Inforst Marriage, and treats the story of Walter Calverley, whose identity is thinly disguised under the name of "Scarborough." This man had killed his two children and had attempted to murder his wife. The play originally had a tragic ending, but as played in 1607 ended in comedy, and the story stopped short before the catastrophe, perhaps because of objections raised by Mrs Calverley's family, the Cobhams.

The crime itself is dealt with in A Yorkshire Tragedy, which was originally performed with three other plays under the title of All's One. It was entered in the Stationers' Register in 1608 as "written by William Shakespeare," published with the same ascription in that year, and reprinted in 1619 without contradiction of the statement. The attribution to Shakespeare is not generally accepted by scholars, and although some have suggested that Wilkins was involved, the weight of stylistic evidence strongly favours Thomas Middleton.

Wilkins was associated with the King's Men, and was thus a colleague of William Shakespeare. A number of studies have attributed to Wilkins a share in Shakespeare's Pericles, Prince of Tyre (which does not appear in Shakespeare's First Folio, but was published only in a textually-corrupt quarto). This may have been collaboration, or perhaps Wilkins was the original author of Pericles and Shakespeare remodelled it. Alternatively, Pericles may be a Shakespearian play remodelled by Wilkins. However it may be, Wilkins published in 1608 a novel entitled The Painfull Adventures of Pericles, Prynce of Tyre, being the true history of Pericles as it was lately presented by ... John Gower, which sometimes follows the play very closely. The editors of the 1986 Oxford Edition of Shakespeare make the assumption that Wilkins was the co-author of Pericles and draw heavily upon The Painfull Adventures in their controversial reconstructed text of the play.

Reference

  • Stanley Wells and Gary Taylor, eds. Shakespeare: The Complete Works (Oxford, 1986)
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