The aim of this book, in conformity with that of the series, is to provide sixth-form and university students with the historical, literary and theatrical contexts they need in order to make sense of the more widely studied and revived English renaissance plays. The field, then, consists of the scripts from that London theatrical culture which took shape in the 1570s and 80s, and came to an end in 1642. Within that large body of writing, the emphasis is on plays that are readily available in modern editions and occasionally to be seen in modern productions. This project runs immediately into the problem of what to do about Shakespeare. For over two hundred years, he has so dominated the reception of this drama that if one were to concentrate on, say, the twenty most studied or most performed English renaissance plays, it would turn out that they were all his. The book will resist this logic, so as not simply to reproduce Shakespeare's dehistoricising pre-eminence.
On the other hand, to resist it by exclusion, so that 'Renaissance Drama' means, as it often does, 'Renaissance Drama Other Than Shakespeare', would produce a very skewed representation even of the others: the evidence of allusions, imitations, and publication suggests that Shakespeare did dominate playwriting between 1590 and 1610 - not so absolutely as has since come to be the case, but nevertheless decisively. The proposed compromise is this: in Section 3 ('key texts'), the number of Shakespeare plays will be restricted to four, and these will be placed in relation to non-Shakespearean drama: and then in sections 1 and 4, where the drama is discussed in generic and thematic terms rather than play-by-play, the many important Shakespeare plays which are rather arbitrarily not 'key texts' will be freely mined for examples and illustrations.
"A book surveying the field by introducing as many as twenty-one dramatists and generally considering the London theatrical culture between the 1570s and 1642. Among the key texts commented on are two of Shakespeare's tragedies, namely Hamlet ... and King Lear ... .The book is of good use to readers needing a guide to the historical, literary and theatrical contexts in which English Renaissance drama took shape." (Year's Work in English Studies, 2008)
"The ideal companion for both students and teachers of Tudor and Stuart plays. I ... was able to use it and recommend it to my students ... .They loved it almost as much as I did. The book features ... excellent, thought-provoking readings of the major plays ... and a wonderfully quirky, fascinating, and useful section on recurring tropes and patterns ... .The major writers are represented, and the book will work nicely with the Norton and the Blackwell anthologies ... .I recommend this book with the highest praise." (Studies in English Literature 1500-1900, Spring 2008)
..".Womack offers insightful critical comments on English Renaissance playwrights, some major plays, and a variety of contextual topics...Womack is an astute critic." (CHOICE)
"Remarkably comprehensive ... a very fine introduction for the non-specialist." (Touchstone)
Courtiers and Capitalists.
Actors and Writers.
Francis Beaumont (1584/5?1616).
Richard Brome (c. 1590?1652).
George Chapman (1559?1634).
Thomas Dekker (c. 1572?1632).
John Fletcher (1579?1625).
John Ford (1586??1650).
Robert Greene (1558?1592).
Thomas Heywood (c. 1573?1641).
Ben Jonson (1572?1637).
Thomas Kyd (1558?1594).
Christopher Marlowe (1564?1593).
John Marston (1576?1634).
Philip Massinger (1583?1640).
Thomas Middleton (1580?1627).
Anthony Munday (1560?1633).
George Peele (1556?1596).
William Rowley (d. 1626).
William Shakespeare (1564?1616).
James Shirley (1596?1666).
Cyril Tourneur (d. 1626).
John Webster (c. 1579?c. 1630).
Thomas Kyd, The Spanish Tragedy.
Christopher Marlowe, Tamburlaine the Great.
Christopher Marlowe, Doctor Faustus.
William Shakespeare, Richard II .
Ben Jonson, Every Man In His Humour .
Thomas Dekker, The Shoemakers? Holiday .
William Shakespeare, Hamlet.
John Marston, The Dutch Courtesan.
William Shakespeare, King Lear.
The Revenger?s Tragedy .
Ben Jonson, Volpone, or, The Fox .
Francis Beaumont, The Knight of the Burning Pestle.
Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, The Maid?s Tragedy.
Thomas Dekker and Thomas Middleton, The Roaring Girl.
William Shakespeare, The Tempest .
Thomas Middleton, A Chaste Maid in Cheapside.
Ben Jonson, Bartholomew Fair.
John Webster, The Duchess of Malfi.
Thomas Middleton and William Rowley, The Changeling.
Philip Massinger, The Roman Actor .
Thomas Heywood, The Fair Maid of the West.
John Ford, ?Tis Pity She?s a Whore.
Richard Brome, A Jovial Crew.
Actions That A Man Might Play.
Being a Woman.
Rising from the Dead.