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Samuel Rowley

  • Birth unknown England
  • Death Nov 1624 Whitechapel, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
  • Burial Whitechapel, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
  • Plot church destroyed in WWII, yard now a park. Grave unmarked.
  • Memorial ID 13060517

Playwright, Actor. Associated with London's Fortune Theatre, mostly during the reign of James I. Rowley's only surviving drama, "When You See Me You Know Me" (1603), is a chronicle of Henry VIII's conflicts with Cardinal Wolsey, mirrored in a comic subplot with their court jesters Will Somers and Patch. It was a probable source for the Shakespeare-Fletcher play "Henry VIII" (1613). Nothing is known of Rowley's life before the late 1590s, when he appears in the diary of producer Philip Henslowe as script reader and actor; his first play appeared in 1601. His entire career was spent with the theatre company the Admiral's Men and its later incarnations, Prince Henry's Men and Palsgrave's Men, writing, playing small roles onstage, and helping manage the business affairs. Other works include the Biblical dramas "Judas" (1601), "Joshua" (1602), and "Samson" (1602), and the royal masque "Hymen's Holiday" (1612), which was successfully revived at the court of Charles I in 1633. In 1602 Henslowe paid him to add comedy scenes to Marlowe's "Doctor Faustus", a concession to popular taste that has horrified centuries of scholars. Rowley apparently retired in 1617 but came back to write "Hard Shift for Husbands" (c. 1623), "Richard III" (c. 1623), and "A Match or No Match" (c. 1624). A fire at the Fortune Theatre fire in 1621 may have destroyed the company's playscripts, and as a shareholder it would have been in his interest to help replenish its repertory. Some believe the extant "The Noble Soldier" (1622) was a collaboration between him and Thomas Dekker. In his will (proved December 4, 1624) Rowley left his books to his brother William, possibly the better-known playwright William Rowley, though there is nothing to corroborate this.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Mark McManus
  • Added: 18 Jan 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 13060517
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Samuel Rowley (unknown–Nov 1624), Find A Grave Memorial no. 13060517, citing St. Mary Matfelon Church, Whitechapel, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .