Thomas Heywood’s two-part history play
If You Know Not Me You Know Nobody
was a run-away success: not only was Part I printed eight times and Part II five times between 1605 and 1639, but the two parts of the play continued to be given, if in slightly altered forms, well into the reign of Charles II. A comment in Pepys’s diary may account for the extreme popularity of a play noted neither for its dramatic merit nor its light literary touch:
I confess I have sucked in so much of the sad story of Queen Elizabeth, from my cradle, that I was ready to weep for her sometimes. But the play is the most ridiculous that sure ever came upon stage, and indeed, is merely a show; only, shows the true garb of the queens in those days, just as we see Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth painted — but the play is merely a puppet-play acted by living puppets. Neither the design nor language better; and one stands by and tells us the meaning of things. Only, I was pleased to see Knipp dance among the milkmaids, and to hear her sing a song to Queen Elizabeth.