WILKINS, GEORGE (fl. 1607), English playwright and pamphleteer, is first mentioned as the author of a pamphlet on the Three Miseries of Barbary, which probably dates from 1604. He was associated with the King's Men, and was thus a colleague of Shakespeare. He was chiefly employed in remodelling old plays. He collaborated in 1607 with William Rowley and John Day in The Travailes of the Three English Brothers. In the same year a play was produced which was apparently entirely Wilkins's work. It is The Miseries of Inforst Mariage, and treats the story of Walter Calverley, whose identity is thinly veiled under the name of " Scarborough." This man had killed his two children and had attempted to murder his wife. The play had originally a tragic ending, but as played in 1607 ended in comedy, and the story stopped short before the catastrophe, perhaps because of objections raised by Mrs Calverley's family, the Cobhams. The crime itself is dealt with in A Yorkshire Tragedy, which was originally performed with three other plays under the title of All's One. It was entered on the Stationers' Register in 1608 as " written by William Shakespeare," published with the same ascription in that year, and reprinted in 1619 without contradiction of the statement. Mr Sidney Lee assigns to George Wilkins a share in Shakespeare's Pericles and possibly in Timon of Athens. Delius conjectured that Wilkins was the original author of Pericles and that Shakespeare remodelled it. However that may be, Wilkins published in 1608 a novel entitled The Painfull Adventures of Pericles, Prynce of Tyre, being the true history of Pericles as it was lately presented by . . . John Cower, which sometimes follows the play very closely.
Mr Fleay (Biog. Chron. of the Drama) says that the external evidence for the Shakespearian authorship of the Yorkshire Tragedy cannot be impugned, and in the absence of other authorship cannot be lightly set aside, but he does not abandon the hope of establishing a contrary opinion. Both Mr Fleay and Professor A. W. Ward (Eng. Dram. Lit. ii. p. 182) seem to think that the story of Marina in Pericles was a complete original play by Shakespeare, and that the remodelling story should be reversed, i.e. that Pericles is a Shakespearian play remodelled by a playwright, possibly Wilkins. Mr Lee (Diet. Nat. Biog., Art. " Wilkins ") says the Yorkshire Tragedy was " fraudulently " assigned to Shakespeare by Thomas Pavier, the publisher.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)