John Heywood and Court Drama

Thomas Betteridge

in The Oxford Handbook of Tudor Literature

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780199205882
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

John Heywood and Court Drama

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  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)



John Heywood had established himself as a playwright, poet, actor, and producer at the court of Henry VIII by the 1520s. Over the next forty years until the succession of Elizabeth I, Heywood was at the centre of Tudor court culture. Despite this, his place in accounts of the literary history of the sixteenth century has invariably been small and insignificant. This is largely because his work has been traditionally placed on the margins of a teleological narrative of literary change whose broad outlines have remained unchanged since C. S. Lewis condemned the mid-Tudor period as the ‘Drab Age’ of literature. This article discusses the nature of the Henrician court and its drama before focusing in detail on a number of Heywood's plays, including Johan Johan, The Pardoner and the Friar, The Four PP, and The Play of the Weather, to illustrate the sophistication — dramatic, political, and religious — of Heywoodian court drama.

Keywords: Tudor court culture; Henrician court; plays; Johan Johan; The Pardoner and the Friar; The Four PP; The Play of the Weather

Article.  7792 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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