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A Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 4   By: (1857-1920)

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A Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 4 by A. H. Bullen is a delightful anthology featuring a diverse range of plays from the early modern period. The book captures the essence of Old English theater, transporting readers back in time to experience the rich theatrical heritage of the era.

One of the standout features of this collection is the careful curation of the plays. Bullen has assembled a selection of works that exemplify the various genres and styles prevalent during this period, including morality plays, romantic comedies, and tragedies. Each play is introduced with a brief but informative preface, providing readers with historical context and insights into the playwright's intentions.

The language used in these plays is undeniably archaic, but Bullen's expert editing ensures that readers can still comprehend and appreciate the texts. The footnotes are comprehensive and immensely helpful, providing clarifications on unfamiliar words and phrases, as well as explanations of historical references. This attention to detail demonstrates Bullen's dedication to making these plays accessible to a modern audience.

The collection boasts several gems among its offerings. Notably, the inclusion of John Ford's "The Witch of Edmonton" is a real treat. This compelling tragedy explores themes of witchcraft, morality, and human nature, offering a fascinating insight into the anxieties of the time. Other noteworthy plays include "The Maid's Metamorphosis" by John Lyly, a delightful romantic comedy, and "The Revenger's Tragedy" by Thomas Middleton, a powerful exploration of revenge and corruption.

While the plays themselves are undoubtedly the main attraction, Bullen's informative and well-researched introduction adds another layer of richness to the collection. It provides an overview of the historical and cultural significance of Old English theater, shedding light on the conditions under which these plays were written and performed. This introduction is a valuable resource for readers seeking a broader understanding of the period.

Overall, A Collection of Old English Plays, Volume 4 is a valuable addition to any theater lover's bookshelf. Bullen's meticulous curation, thoughtful editing, and insightful annotations make these plays accessible and enjoyable for modern readers. This anthology serves as both a window into a bygone era of theatrical excellence and a reminder of the enduring power of these timeless works.

First Page:


In Four Volumes

Edited by


1882 89.


Preface Two Tragedies in One. By Robert Yarington The Captives, or the Lost Recovered. By Thomas Heywood The Costlie Whore. Everie Woman in her Humor. Appendix Index Footnotes


The fourth and final volume of this Collection of Old Plays ought to have been issued many months ago. I dare not attempt to offer any excuses for the wholly unwarrantable delay.

In the preface to the third volume I stated that I hoped to be able to procure a transcript of an unpublished play (preserved in Eg. MS. 1,994) of Thomas Heywood. It affords me no slight pleasure to include this play in the present volume. Mr. JEAVES, of the Manuscript Department of the British Museum, undertook the labour of transcription and persevered to the end. As I have elsewhere stated, the play is written in a detestable hand; and few can appreciate the immense trouble that it cost Mr. JEAVES to make his transcript. Where Mr. JEAVES' labours ended mine began; I spent many days in minutely comparing the transcript with the original. There are still left passages that neither of us could decipher, but they are not numerous.

I may be pardoned for regarding the Collection with some pride. Six of the sixteen plays are absolutely new, printed for the first time; and I am speaking within bounds when I declare that no addition so substantial has been made to the Jacobean drama since the days of Humphrey Moseley and Francis Kirkman... Continue reading book >>

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