Alleyn, Edward

1566-1626

Edward Alleyn, often known as Ned, was a successful Elizabethan actor, specialising in tragedies and the plays of Christopher Marlowe. He was a member of the Worcester's Men and the Admiral's Men acting troupes and later formed Prince Henry's Men. Throughout much of his career he was a rival of William Shakespeare's troupes and his Hope Theatre (founded in 1614) was a direct competitor to Shakespeare's Globe.

Alleyn was married twice, the second time to Constance Donne, daughter of poet John Donne. He was a very popular actor among members of high society, being a particular favourite of both Elizabeth I and King James. In fact, James made him 'master of the king's bears, bulls, and dogs.'

Alleyn was also a successful entrepreneur and property owner, with a part-ownership in a bear-baiting house and the Fortune Theatre. Alleyn purchased the manor of Dulwich in 1605 from Sir Francis Calton for the then staggering sum of £35,000 and on June 21st 1619 he established a college there under letters patent granted by King James I. Alleyn's college was based on the public school model of Eton, Charterhouse, and Winchester.

Alleyn's initial idea was a joint foundation, with educational and charitable houses sharing the same chapel. One curious rule laid down by Alleyn in the school statutes was a requirement that the Master and Warden were to be unmarried and 'of my blood and sirname'. Obviously this made finding suitable applicants very difficult and the requirement was abolished in the 19th century. Dulwich College is today the largest and one of the most prestigious public schoiols in England.

Time period(s): Tudor Stuart

Tags: Edward Alleyn   William Shakespeare   Elizabeth I   James I   Christopher Marlowe   John Donne   Dulwich College   Eton   Charterhouse   Winchester  


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