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Chapter 5 - Merry Histories, 1598–1599

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 June 2019

Harriet Phillips
Affiliation:
Queen Mary University of London
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Summary

This chapter considers two plays which draw explicitly on the broadside ballad tradition of merry world fiction: Thomas Heywood’s The First Part of Edward IV (c. 1599); and Henry Chettle and Anthony Munday’s The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntington (c. 1598). While these play-texts quote from, allude to, and overlap with the ballad stories they dramatise in various ways, it is also possible to see a distinctively theatrical vocabulary emerging which adapts the merry world topos to the stage. As such, they presuppose a high degree of audience familiarity with the visual and verbal conventions of the genre on page, stage, and in performance. The theatrical literacy of this assumed audience allows both plays to be constructed around moments of recognition and repetition. This degree of stylistic self-consciousness is playfully knowing in Heywood’s Edward IV and a source of frustration in the Downfall, where it is the impetus for an elaborate meta-theatrical framework exploring audience desire and response.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2019

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  • Merry Histories, 1598–1599
  • Harriet Phillips, Queen Mary University of London
  • Book: Nostalgia in Print and Performance, 1510–1613
  • Online publication: 08 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108612685.006
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  • Merry Histories, 1598–1599
  • Harriet Phillips, Queen Mary University of London
  • Book: Nostalgia in Print and Performance, 1510–1613
  • Online publication: 08 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108612685.006
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Merry Histories, 1598–1599
  • Harriet Phillips, Queen Mary University of London
  • Book: Nostalgia in Print and Performance, 1510–1613
  • Online publication: 08 June 2019
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108612685.006
Available formats
×