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"Cutting" Ball was a notorious criminal during the Elizabethan Age.[1] (His name came from a "cutpurse", a thief.)

Thomas Nashe mentions a ballad written about him, which does not survive.[2] His sister, Em, or Emma, was a prostitute, "a sorry ragged quean", who according to various reports was the mistress of the clown Richard Tarlton and later of the writer Robert Greene and cared for both on their death-beds. She is said to have had a son, Fortunatus (d. 1593), by Greene. Greene, who wrote much about the London underworld, once hired Ball as a bodyguard.[3] Ball was hanged at Tyburn. The San Francisco experimental Cutting Ball Theatre was named after him.[4]


  1. ^ Will in the World. Stephen Greenblatt. W. W. Norton & Company, 2004. page 205.
  2. ^ Works of Thomas Nashe. Ronald Brunlees McKerrow, ed. Sidgwick & Jackson, 1910. Volume 3, Page 55. See notes.
  3. ^ "Robert Greene: King of the Paper Stage," Stephanie Hopkins Hughes. page 14.
  4. ^ About Cutting Ball Theatre, Accessed July 12, 2012