Holinshed, Raphael

views updated May 21 2018

Holinshed, Raphael (c.1520–c.1581). Holinshed was the author and compiler of Chronicles of England, Scotlande and Irelande, published in 1577. A second and enlarged edition in 1587 was edited by John Vowell and took the story into recent times. Holinshed had little method or sceptical approach but his eclecticism made him a valuable quarry for historical playwrights. Shakespeare made use of the Chronicles in several plays, including Lear, Macbeth, and Cymbeline and the later historical plays. Though he made considerable changes to Holinshed's version of Macbeth, the episode of the witches is reproduced almost verbatim—‘All haile, Makbeth, that hereafter shalt be king’: the taking of the crown in 2 Henry IV comes straight from Holinshed. Of his life, very little is known for certain. He may have been from Cheshire, is said to have been at Cambridge, and could have been in holy orders. He worked for the printer Reyner Wolfe. His will was proved in April 1582, when he was described as steward to Thomas Burdet of Bramcote (War.).

J. A. Cannon

Holinshed, Raphael

views updated Jun 08 2018

Holinshed, Raphael (d. c.1580), English chronicler. Although the named compiler of The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1577), Holinshed wrote only the Historie of England and had help with the remainder. The revised (1587) edition was used by Shakespeare.