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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume IV. Prose and Poetry: Sir Thomas North to Michael Drayton.

VII. Marlowe and Kyd

§ 17. The Spanish Tragedie

We know that in 1592 The Spanish Tragedie was enjoying the fullest popular favour. None of the earliest quartos—Allde’s undated print, Jeffes’s in 1594, White’s in 1599–gives a clue to the authorship. The entry of the licence for The Spanishe tragedie of Don Horatio and Bellmipeia (Bellimperia) on 6 October, 1592, is silent; so, too, the later editions, and the notes in Henslowe of Ben Jonson’s additions in 1601 and 1602. It is not till we come to the casual reference by Thomas Heywood to “M. Kid” as the author that what might have proved another bibliographical crux is fully determined. We may assume, from the hints in the inductions to Cynthia’s Revels and Bartholomew Fayre, that the play was written between 1585 and 1587. Not only are there no direct references to the great events of 1588, such as could hardly be absent from a “Spanish” tragedy—but the deliberate allusion to older conflicts with England shows that the opportunity which Kyd, as a popular writer, could not have missed had not yet come.