James Shirley was the last great dramatist of the English Renaissance, shining out among other luminaries such as John Ford, Ben Jonson, or Richard Brome.
This collection considers Shirley within the culture of his time, and highlights his contribution to seventeenth-century English literature as poet and playwright. Individual essays explore Shirley’s musical theatre and spoken verse, performance conditions, female agency and politics, and the presentation of his work in manuscript and print. Collectively, the essays assemble a larger picture of Caroline drama, showing it to be more than simply a nostalgic endgame, its poets daintily sipping hemlock on the eve of the Civil Wars.
Shirley’s literary versatility and long life, spanning the last days of Queen Elizabeth I to the ascension of Charles II, make him an ideal writer through whom to examine the distinctive qualities of Caroline theatre.
Table of Contents
Time for James Shirley
The Comic and the Apocalyptic in Shirley’s Drama
‘And you meane to rise at court, practise to caper’:
The Representation of the Court in James Shirley’s Plays, 1631-36
Rebellion in Arcadia: Caroline Anti-Militarism in Dramatic Adaptations of Sidney
Rachel Ellen Clark
A Conflict More Fierce than Many Thousand Battles: Staging the Politics of Treason and Allegiance in James Shirley’s Maritime Plays, The Young Admiral and The Court Secret
Shirley’s Dublin Days: A Nervous Première of St. Patrick for Ireland
Papers Most Foul: The Melbourne Manuscript and the ‘Foul Papers’ Debate
Dan Starza Smith
Plotting Paratexts in Shirley’s The Politician
The Drama of Shirley’s Poems
Music in the Work of James Shirley
Versification from Shakespeare to Shirley: Implications for Performance
Barbara Ravelhofer is Professor of English Literature at Durham University and a general editor on The Oxford Complete Works of James Shirley. Her publications include The Early Stuart Masque: Dance, Costume, and Music (2006).