An Introduction to Tudor Drama

By Frederick S. Boas | Go to book overview

I
THE EARLY TUDOR GROUP OF PLAYWRIGHTS

IN my Introduction to the Reading of Shakespeare I have given some suggestions to those who are beginning the study of Shakespeare's plays and poems and I have indicated what are likely to be helpful lines of approach to them. The question has been asked:

What does he know of England Who only England knows?

So, in a measure, it is with England's master-dramatist. He does not stand alone in isolated majesty. His work is the climax, the consummation of the efforts and achievements of forerunners for a century before he began to write. Unless we know something of what they were and did, of what they contributed to the English stage before Shakespeare came both to crown and to eclipse what they had so far accomplished, we shall not be able to see his own work in its true proportion and perspective. Some knowledge of predecessors and contemporaries in the field of drama is therefore necessary to every reader of Shakespeare after he has become more or less familiar with the plays preserved in the First Folio of 1623.

This is alone a sufficient reason for the study of early Tudor drama. But that study is also an end in itself. We understand Shakespeare all the better if we have made acquaintance with Medwall and Heywood, Lyly and Greene, Kyd and Marlowe, and with school and university playwrights. But these would be well worth our attention, and would more than repay our pains

-1-

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