Arden of Faversham

Definition

Theater

  • A play printed in 1592; it has sometimes been attributed to Shakespeare but the most likely author is now thought to be Thomas Kyd. The earliest English domestic melodrama, it is based on the 1548 murder of Thomas Arden, mayor of Faversham in Kent. The play follows the actual events fairly closely. Arden's wife Alice, in love with a tailor called Thomas Mosby, plottedto murder her husband, with the aid of two ruffians known as Loosebagg (in the play, Shakebag) and Black Will. After several foiled attempts, Arden was killed as he played draughts in his parlour with Mosby. In the play the murderers rush in on the signal "Now I take you", when Mosby takes one of Arden's pieces. Three of the murderers were apprehended: Alice was burnt at Canterbury,Mosby was hanged at Smithfield, and Black Will was also executed. Loosebaggescaped and was never heard of again.

    Since the 18th century the play has generally been performed in a versionby George Lillo, completed after his death by John Hoadly and first acted in 1759.

    The story appeared in Holinshed's Chronicles (1587). Arden's half-timbered house in Faversham is still standing.

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