Every Man in His Humour is a 1598 play by the English playwright Ben Jonson. The play belongs to the subgenre of the "humours comedy," in which each major character is dominated by an over-riding humour or obsession.
All the available evidence indicates that the play was performed by the Lord Chamberlain's Men in 1598 at the Curtain Theatre. That date is given in the play's reprint in Jonson's 1616 folio collection of his works; the text of the play (IV,iv,15) contains an allusion to John Barrose, a Burgundian fencer who challenged all comers that year and was hanged for murder on 10 July 1598. The play was also acted at Court on 2 February 1605.
A theatre legend first recorded in 1709 by Nicholas Rowe has it that Shakespeare advocated production of the play at a point when the company was about to reject it. While this legend is unverifiable, it is almost certain, based on the playlist published in the folio, that Shakespeare played the part of Kno'well, the aged father. This is consistent with Shakespeare's habit of playing older characters, such as Adam in As You Like It.
The play was entered into the Register of the Stationers' Company on 4 August 1600, along with the Shakespearean plays As You Like It, Much Ado About Nothing, and Henry V, in an entry marked "to be stayed." It is thought that this entry was an attempt to block publication of the four plays; if so, the attempt failed, since the latter three plays appeared in print soon after. Every Man In was re-registered ten days later, on 14 August 1600, by the booksellers Cuthbert Burby and Walter Burre; the first quarto was published in 1601, with Burre's name on the title page. In the 1601 Quarto version, the play was set in Florence. The play was next printed in Jonson's 1616 folio, with the setting being moved to London
About the Author
Robert N. Watson is Professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. He has served since 1997 as Head Scholar of the Teaching Shakespeare Summer Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.