CHETTLE, HENRY (1564?-1607?), English dramatist and miscellaneous writer, was the son of Robert Chettle, a London dyer. He was apprenticed in 1577 to a stationer, and in 1591 became a partner with William Hoskins and John Danter. In 1592 he published Robert Greene's Groatsworth of Wit. In the preface to his Kind Herts Dreame (end of 1592) he found it necessary to disavow any share in that pamphlet, and incidentally he apologized to three persons (one of them commonly identified with Shakespeare) who had been abused in it. Piers Plainnes Seaven Yeres Prentiship, the story of a fictitious apprenticeship in Crete and Thrace, appeared in 1595. As early as 1598 Francis Meres includes him in his Palladis Tamia as one of the "best for comedy," and between that year and 1603 he wrote or collaborated in some forty-nine pieces. He seems to have been generally in debt, judging from numerous entries in Henslowe's diary of advances for various purposes, on one occasion (17th of January 1599) to pay his expenses in the Marshalsea prison, on another (7th of March 1603) to get his play out of pawn. Of the thirteen plays usually attributed to Chettle's sole authorship only one was printed. This was The Tragedy of Hoffmann: or a Revenge for a Father (played 1602; printed 1631), a share in which Mr Fleay assigns to Thomas Heywood. It has been suggested that this piece was put forward as a rival to Shakespeare's Hamlet. Among the plays in which Chettle had a share is catalogued The Danish Tragedy, which was probably either identical with Hoffmann or another version of the same story. The Pleasant Comedie of Patient Grissill (1599), in which he collaborated with Thomas Dekker and William Haughton, was reprinted by the Shakespeare Society in 1841. It contains the lyric "Art thou poor, yet hast thou golden slumbers," which is probably Dekker's. In November 1599 Chettle receives ten shillings for mending the first part of "Robin Hood," i.e. The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, by Anthony Munday; and in the second part, which followed soon after and was printed in 1601, The Death of Robert, Earle of Huntingdon, he collaborated with Munday. Both plays are printed in Dodsley's Select Collection of Old English Plays (ed. W. C. Hazlitt, vol. viii.). In 1603 Chettle published England's Mourning Garment, in which are included some verses alluding to the chief poets of the time. His death took place before the appearance of Dekker's Knight's Conjurer in 1607, for he is there mentioned as a recent arrival in limbo.
Hoffmann was edited by H. B(arrett) L(ennard) (1852) and by Richard Ackermann (Bamberg, 1894).