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Henry Condell was an English actor best known for starring in many of Shakespeare’s original casts. As an original shareholder in both the Globe and Blackfriars theaters, as well as co-editing with John Heminges the First Folio of his works published in 1623.
Not much is known of his private life, though he was obviously wealthy enough to buy a country house at Fulham in Middlesex. Additionally, Shakespeare left him money for mourning rings in his will.
Early Life and Education
Condell’s early life remains obscure. He may have begun his theatrical career as early as 1590-91 in a small company with Richard Burbage, Augustine Phillips and John Heminges (John Heminges served as shareholder and financial manager of Blackfriars Theatre). By 24 October 1596 he married Elizabeth Smart at St Laurence Pountney; shortly thereafter they settled into St Mary Aldermanbury parish where both Heminges and Condell served as churchwardens.
He prospered enough to acquire property at Fulham and Brockhampton in Snowshill, Gloucestershire. Remaining true to his fellow actors, in 1623 along with Heminges he published Shakespeare’s first Folio; for the first time all his plays had been accurately published compared with earlier cheap quarto prints.
Henry Condell was an actor in William Shakespeare’s King’s Men playing company. With John Heminges, Henry helped prepare and publish the First Folio (collected works) in 1623.
Details regarding Condell’s early life are scarce. He likely hails from East Anglia as his will mentions family in New Buckenham. By 24 October 1596 when he married Elizabeth Smart at St Laurence Pountney Church he had reached London.
Richard Burbage and Heminges both left money to him as bequests towards mourning rings, making him an integral part of their friendship circle. By 1598-8 he had advanced to senior membership of Lord Chamberlain/King’s men as well as shares in both theatres: Globe and Blackfriars respectively. By this point he appeared regularly in several cast lists for Ben Jonson plays while serving among Shakespeare’s principal players for most plays; several cast lists for Ben Jonson also feature him prominently among others such as Principal Players among most plays written by Shakespeare himself! Richard Burbage and Heminges gave him money so he could buy mourning rings upon their passing respectively.
Achievement and Honors
Gunderson’s award-winning play unveils an astounding and until then untold tale: Henry Condell and John Heminges were two of Shakespeare’s acting colleagues who banded together to save his work for posterity by beseeching publishers to give them permission. They took it upon themselves to raise funds by borrowing or begging and found an unlikely publisher willing to publish his plays in order to protect his works for posterity.
Traditionally, Condell has been identified with “Harry” who appears in Richard Tarlton’s The Seven Deadly Sins cast list; however, this attribution remains only tenuous. By 1596 he had married Elizabeth Smart at St Laurence Pountney and settled into St Mary Aldermanbury where both he and Heminges served as churchwardens; both also left substantial estates including shares in both Globe and Blackfriars theatres as well as purchasing country homes; one such home could be found near Fulham in Middlesex.
Henry Condell was married to Marion (nee Vallange). Together they had two children. Henry passed away at age 74 on a certain month day at an undisclosed location.
He is believed to have been born in Norwich and baptised at St Peter Mancroft on 5 September 1576, as Robert Condell and Joan, nee Yeomans (fishmonger). Before 1599 he moved to London and married Elizabeth Smart on 24 October at St Laurence Pountney church that later burned in 1666’s Great Fire; they settled into St Mary Aldermanbury parish where he served as churchwardens.
He appears on eight cast lists added to the Beaumont and Fletcher Folios between 1603 and 1611. Jonson listed him in four plays of his: Sejanus, Volpone, The Alchemist and Catiline as an actor; as well as appearing presumably all Shakespeare works.
Henry Condell was born in Norwich as the son of fishmonger Robert Condell and Joan Yeomans (nee Yeomans). He was baptized on 5 September 1576.
On stage, his first official performance came alongside Ben Jonson in 1598’s Every Man In His Humour for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (after 1603 known as King’s Men).
By 24 October 1596 he had married Elizabeth Smart at St Laurence Pountney (later St Mary Aldermanbury). He lived and served as churchwarden within this parish before acquiring property at Fulham in Middlesex as well as shares in both Globe and Blackfriars theatres – purchasing property there prior to his death in 1627 at Fulham and being interred alongside her there on 3 October 1635; leaving an estate valued at approximately PS360.