Renaissance Dramatists


Although much of the dramatic work was composed during Shakespeare’s lifetime, the most typical of the plays appeared after his death.

There were several great names, after Shakespeare, of English stage-Ben Jonson, Chapman Webster, Beaumont and Fletcher, Dekker, Middleton and many others. This gave to the English theatre, a glory of its own.

Ben Jonson

He was the most prominent figure in the English drama after Shakespeare. He is known as the “First Great English Neo-Classic.

In the field of drama, he wrote both tragedies and comedies. But his genius was felt in realistic social comedies, known as “Comedy of Manners“.

Best known comedies of Ben Jonson are “Every man in his humor”, “Everyman out of his humor”, “The Silent Woman”, “The Alchemist and Bartholomew Fair”. His tragedies: “Sejanus his Fall”, “Catiline: his Conspiracy”.

Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher

The two dramatists met under the leadership of Ben Jonson and soon became inseparable friends. They produced 52 plays. Their most important plays are “The Knight of the Burning Pestle”, “Philaster“, “The Maid’s Tragedy”, “A King and No King”.

George Chapman

He was made famous by Keat’s Sonnet as the translator of Homer. He was rather a poet than a dramatist, but his dramatist qualities are no less significant.

His best-known works are:- “The Blind Beggar of Alexandria”, “The Admiral of France”, “All Fools”, “The Gentleman Usher” etc.

Thomas Heywood

He wrote maximum plays at his age. He worked in a variety of dramatic genres-historical, romantic, comedy of manners etc. But in the case of domestic drama, he is unique. He wrote about 228 plays.

Lamb called him, “the prose Shakespeare”. His best plays are:- A Woman Killed with Kindness“, “The English Traveler”, “Fair and of West” etc.

Thomas Dekker

He was a lovable personality and possessed real qualities of a dramatist. He is called “The Dickens of the Elizabethan stage“. His best plays are “Old Fortunatus”, “The Shoemaker’s Holiday”, “The Honest Whore” etc.

John Webster

He wrote highly sensational tragedies. His important plays are:- The White Devil“, “The Duchess of Malfi (his Masterpiece) etc. Other playwrights of this age are Middleton, Tourneur etc.