John Webster

John Webster, 1580?–1634, English dramatist, b. London. Although little is known of his life, there is evidence that he worked for Philip Henslowe, collaborating with such playwrights as Dekker and Ford. Webster's literary reputation rests almost entirely on his two great tragedies, The White Devil (c.1608) and The Duchess of Malfi (c.1614). Violent and sensational, both plays treat the theme of revenge and generate a brooding, somber mood. Webster's highly poetic language and profound understanding of human suffering create a true tragic pathos and force.

See his works (ed. by F. L. Lucas, 4 vol., 1927); studies by C. Leech (1951, repr. 1970), R. Berry (1972), R. F. Whitman (1973), L. Bliss (1983), and C. Forker (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

John Webster: A Critical Study
Clifford Leech.
Hogarth Press, 1951
John Webster: The Critical Heritage
Don D. Moore.
Routledge, 1995
FREE! The Chief Elizabethan Dramatists, Excluding Shakespeare
William Allan Neilson.
Houghton Mifflin, 1911
Librarian’s tip: "The Duchess of Malfi" by John Webster begins on p. 656
Skull beneath the Skin: The Achievement of John Webster
Charles R. Forker.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1986
FREE! John Webster and the Elizabethan Drama
Rupert Brooke.
John Lane Company, 1916
Shakespeare's Contemporaries
Max Bluestone; Norman Rabkin.
Prentice Hall, 1961
Librarian’s tip: "John Webster: Fate and Chance in The Duchess of Malfi" begins on p. 210 and "'Courtly Reward and Punishment:' An Interpretation of the White Devil" begins on p. 223
Issues of Death: Mortality and Identity in English Renaissance Tragedy
Michael Neill.
Clarendon Press, 1998
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "'Fame's Best Friend:' The Endings of the Duchess of Malfi"
The Jacobean Drama: An Interpretation
U. M. Ellis-Fermor.
Methuen, 1936
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IX "John Webster"
Tamburlaine's Malady: And Other Essays on Astrology in Elizabethan Drama
Johnstone Parr.
University of Alabama Press, 1953
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of John Webster begins on p. 94
The Complete Works of John Webster
F. L. Lucas; John Webster.
Chatto and Windus, vol.4, 1927
The Play of Paradox: Stage and Sermon in Renaissance England
Bryan Crockett.
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "The Mist and the Wilderness: Protestant Paradox in Gifford and Webster"
An Introduction to Stuart Drama
Frederick S. Boas.
Oxford University Press, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VIII "John Webster - Cyril Tourneur"
Poets and Story-Tellers: A Book of Critical Essays
David Cecil.
Macmillan Co., 1949
Librarian’s tip: "John Webster" begins on p. 127
Poetic Drama: An Anthology of Plays in Verse from the Ancient Greek to the Modern American
Alfred Kreymborg.
Modern Age Books, 1941
Librarian’s tip: "The White Devil" by John Webster begins on p. 376
Astrology and English Literature
Kitson, Annabella.
Contemporary Review, Vol. 269, No. 1569, October 1996
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