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Thomas Dekker

Thomas Dekker (1572-1632) was an English playwright and pamphleteer. He is one of the most famous playwrights of the golden era of Elizabethan theatre.

Short biography

As his name indicates, he was likely of Dutch origin.

He is believed to have been born in London, but this is not certain.

He probably started writing for "the Admiral's men" in the 1590s. Before his name became famously attached to some great Elizabethan plays, he worked in collaboration on numerous lesser known plays. Then in 1599, he wrote his most famous play, The shoemakers' holiday, a great London-based comedy.

From the late 1590s, he seems to start gaining fame.

He and Ben Jonson apparently did not like each other much. They exchanged jibes through their plays' characters. This did not prevent the two comedy writers from working together on several projects.

Eventually, success left him on the side of the road. He was also plagued by numerous problems with unpaid debts, bringing about extensive stays in prison which left him bitter, but alimented his pamphleteer work.

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His work

A man without fixed allegiances, Thomas Dekker may have suffered from not sticking to one company throughout his career. This could also explain why a lot of his work may not have been attributed to him or have been lost. He is credited today with more than twenty plays, of which three are tragedies, including “The witch of Edmonton”; but most are comedies: “Satiromastix”, “Cupid and Psyche”, “The seven wise masters”, “The roaring girl”...

From 1602 onwards, Dekker shared his time between writing plays and pamphlets. He collaborated with Thomas Middleton on “The honest whore”.

Once imprisoned, he stopped writing plays.

In the 1620s, once released from prison, he started writing again and collaborated with Day on such works as “The wonder of a kingdom”, “The bellman of Paris”... His pamphlets started in 1603, probably during a period when plague had closed theaters.

Some of his most famous pamphlets are: “The wonderful year”, an account of extraordinary events that happened in the same short space of time, ie the death of Elizabeth, the accession of James I, the 1603 plague...

He then, in 1608, wrote “The bellman of London”, “Lanthorne and candle-light” etc. which are vivid accounts of London plagued by thieves. He even ventured into certain pamphlets which would today be considered journalistic.

He died in August 1632.

©2016-Les Editions de Londres

Livres publiés

  • The shoemaker's holiday

    par Thomas Dekker

    ISBN : 978-1-910628-79-9
    Date de parution : 26 juin 2016
    Nombre de pages : 162 pages

    The Shoemakers' Holiday, or the Gentle craft” is a play written by Thomas Dekker and first performed in 1599 by the Admiral's men. “The shoemakers' holiday” is often categorized as a city comedy. An aristocrat, Rowland Lacy, is in love with a girl, Rose Oatley. Rose's (...)

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