Raphael Holinshed

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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

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Raphael Holinshed (hŏl´Ĭnz-hĕd´, hŏl´Ĭn-shĕd´), d. c.1580, English chronicler. He was a translator who also assisted Reginald Wolfe in the preparation of a universal history, which was never finished. In 1577, four years after Wolfe's death, appeared Holinshed's Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland, which he wrote with the assistance of William Harrison and Richard Stanihurst. Many Elizabethan dramatists drew plots for plays from the book in this and later editions. Shakespeare used it for several plays, especially Macbeth, King Lear, and Cymbeline.

See study by S. Booth (1968).

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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.