Thomas Heywood

Definition

Theater

  • (c. 1570 - 1641) English dramatist and actor, whoclaimed to have been involved in the writing of at least 220 plays,about 35 of which have survived. William Winstanley in his Livesof the Most Famous English Poets offers one possible explanationfor the loss of so many of his plays:
    Tis said, that he not only acted himself almost every day,but also wrote each day a sheet: and that he might loose no time,many of his Plays were composed in the Tavern, on the back-side ofTavern Bills, which may be the occasion that so many of them be lost.
    Although little is known of Heywood's early life, it is assumedthat he must have been in London in the mid 1590s. In 1596 he appearsto have begun writing plays for Philip Henslowe's company,the Admiral's Men. Heywood is also known to have writtenfor, and performed with, Queen Anne's Men.

    Heywood's best-known surviving work is the domestic tragedy,A Woman Killed with Kindness (1603). His diverse output includesa series of plays based on classical mythology called The GoldenAge, The Silver Age, The Brazen Age, and TheIron Age, which were staged between 1611 and 1613. Other notableplays include If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody (1605), TheRape of Lucrece (1607), and the two parts of The Fair Maidof the West (c. 1611, c. 1631), which chroniclesthe life of Elizabeth I. His romantic drama The Four Prenticesof London (1600) was satirized by Francis Beaumont in TheKnight of the Burning Pestle (1607). In 1631 Heywood appearsto have taken over from Thomas Dekker (c. 1570 - 1632)as the writer of the Lord Mayor's Shows, a position he retained until1639. Among Heywood's other writings is An Apology for Actors(1612).

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