Witch of Edmonton

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Thomas Dekker (c. 1572—1632) playwright and pamphleteer

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A tragi‐comedy by Dekker, Ford, Rowley, ‘etc.’ (possibly Webster?), first performed probably 1621, not published until 1658. It is partly based on the story of Elizabeth Sawyer, who was hanged as a witch in April 1621.

Frank Thorney marries his fellow servant Winifred. To save himself from being disinherited, at his father's bidding he also marries Susan Carter, and to extract himself from his embarrassment, murders her, but is discovered and in due course executed.

The old woman of Edmonton is persecuted by her neighbours and to revenge herself she sells her soul to the devil, who appears to her in the form of a dog. Her character is notable for the characteristic sympathy shown by Dekker for the poor outcast. Both plots reflect the theme of revenge, but are otherwise little connected. The play has been successfully staged several times in recent decades.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).

Reference entries

William Rowley (c. 1585—1626) actor and playwright

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