Middle Plays: Collected Works of Thomas Heywood, Volume 3

ISBN : 9780199679140

Thomas Heywood
560 Pages
156 x 234 mm
Pub date
Mar 2022
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Thomas Heywood (c.1573-1641), who claimed to have had 'an entire hand, or at least a maine finger' in two hundred and twenty plays, was one of the most prolific and influential dramatists of the Elizabethan, Jacobean, and early Caroline theatre. Heywood was also recognized in his own time as a master essayist, producing numerous prose tracts, miscellanies, treatises, pamphlets, and broadsides, and in them, to use his own terms, he 'dissected' and 'anatomised' the religious and political dilemmas of contemporary monarchs and their courts. As city poet and principal writer of pageants for the Lord Mayor's Day from 1631 to 1639, Heywood was in a unique position to celebrate civic governance and local policy. He also produced and circulated translations of ancient Greek and Latin texts, as well as writing his own poetry, and, uniquely, edited the plays and poems of his collaborators and contemporaries, often describing in detail in prefaces and epistles how these texts were transmitted from author to audience. In sum, he participated in, epitomised and helped to establish the entire range of author in the early modern age. This modern edition of his works makes him accessible to students, scholars, general readers, actors and directors and rightfully establishes him as a major and seminal contributor to early modern English drama, poetry and prose. Heywood's motto was Aut prodesse solent aut delectare, adapted from the Ars Poetica of Horace and proclaiming the poet's purpose to produce profit and pleasure in his audience. Volume 3 of the edition, Middle Plays, features the five Age plays that he wrote to delight and teach. Heywood set himself the task to chronicle the entire range of classical myth, 'an entire history from Jupiter and Saturn to the utter subversion of Troy'. With ancient Homer acting as chorus (or master of ceremonies) in The Golden Age, The Silver Age, and The Brazen Age, Heywood takes his audiences from the Golden Age of Gods (who embody the worst of human faults) through the exploits of Hercules. The last two plays, The Iron Age, Parts I and II, focus on the carnage of the Trojan war and its aftermath. Redemption lies in the potential of a 'New Troy' in London and Rome. In these plays, Heywood reveals himself as a master of stagecraft, especially of pyrotechnics and flying entrances. His theatre is always exciting.


General Introduction
The Golden Age
The Silver Age
The Brazen Age
The Iron Age, Part I
The Iron Age, Part II

About the author: 

Barry Gaines attended Rice University and the University of Wisconsin. He taught early modern drama with a specialty in Shakespeare and Bibliography at the University of Tennessee for nine years and the University of New Mexico for thirty-two, winning teaching awards at each. He was Associate Editor of Shakespeare Studies for eighteen years, hosted the Shakespeare Association of America general meeting in Albuquerque and directed the National Endowment for the Humanities Institute 'Teaching Shakespeare Workshop' at the Folger Shakespeare Library. He has taught as a Fulbright Exchange Scholar in Germany and England and travelled extensively attending plays. Gaines has also acted at the Albuquerque Little Theatre and reviewed theatre for the Albuquerque Journal for fifteen years. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of New Mexico.

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