Thomas Dekker

Thomas Dekker, c,1570–1632, English dramatist and pamphleteer. Little is known of his life except that he frequently suffered from poverty and served several prison terms for debt. He began his literary career c.1598 working for Philip Henslowe. During this period he wrote his most famous play, The Shoemaker's Holiday (1600), a delightful domestic comedy concerning the success of Simon Eyre, a master shoemaker who becomes the lord mayor of London. The play is notable for its realistic depiction of everyday life in 17th-century London as well as for Dekker's strong use of romantic fantasy in his depiction of characters. After collaborating with John Webster on Westward Ho (1604) and Northward Ho (1605) and with Thomas Middleton on the first part of The Honest Whore (1604; Part II, 1630), Dekker turned to writing pamphlets, the most notable being The Seven Deadly Sins of London (1606) and The Gull's Hornbook (1609), a satiric account of the fops and gallants of his day. In 1610 he returned to playwriting, writing separately and in collaboration with Middleton (The Roaring Girl, 1611), Philip Massinger (The Virgin Martyr, 1622), John Ford, and others. Many of his works, however, have been lost. He was known to have at least partially written over 40 plays, of which about 15 are extant.

See edition of his plays by F. Bowers (4 vol., 1953–61); studies by G. R. Price (1969), T. Bose (1979), and L. Champion (1985).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Thomas Dekker: Selected full-text books and articles

The Plague Pamphlets of Thomas Dekker
F. P. Wilson; Thomas Dekker.
Clarendon Press, 1925
FREE! Thomas Dekker: A Study
Mary Leland Hunt.
Columbia University Press, 1911
Interrogating the Devil: Social and Demonic Pressure in the Witch of Edmonton
Nicol, David.
Comparative Drama, Vol. 38, No. 4, Winter 2004
An Introduction to Stuart Drama
Frederick S. Boas.
Oxford University Press, 1946
Librarian’s tip: Chap. VI "John Marston-Thomas Dekker: Melodrama and Civic Comedy"
Jacobean Theatre
Edward Arnold, 1960
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Thomas Dekker begins on p. 63
Prostitution in Elizabethan and Jacobean Comedy
Anne M. Haselkorn.
Whitston, 1983
Librarian’s tip: Chap. III "The Puritan View: Thomas Dekker"
Playing Companies and Commerce in Shakespeare's Time
Roslyn Lander Knutson.
Cambridge University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Thomas Dekker begins on p. 135
Shakespeare's Contemporaries
Max Bluestone; Norman Rabkin.
Prentice Hall, 1961
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Thomas Dekker begins on p. 157
Cyclopedia of World Authors
Frank N. Magill; Dayton Kohler.
Harper & Row, 1958
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Thomas Dekker begins on p. 279
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