With a prolific writing career that almost exactly spanned the Jacobean era, Thomas Middleton is perhaps the most representative figure of Jacobean drama. Born into a middle-class London family, Middleton was educated at Oxford. There he wrote his earliest poems, marked with Elizabethan stylistic exuberance. They also demonstrate a strong satiricial impulse that was to become the hall­mark of his drama. Two satirical pamphlets about London life followed, showing Middleton's advance along the road of realism.
His career as a playwright began with collaborations with Thomas Dekker* and John Webster,* marked by keen interest in citizen life and the portrayal of living historical characters. The most famous of these is The Roaring Girl (1611), whose title character was London's own Mary Frith, a celebrated cross-dresser. Middleton's reputation as a dramatist was established through his bril­liant city comedies, composed for the fashionable boys' companies. After their closure, Middleton went on to write moral comedies for adult companies. From 1613 on, he devoted much time to writing and producing civic entertainments informed by the militant Protestantism that marked the rest of his work. In 1620 he was appointed London's chronologer, a position he held until his death.
Middleton's tragicomedies from 1614 to 1616 (The Witch, A Fair Quarrel) and tragedies (Women Beware Women, c. 1621, and The Changeling, 1622) share the moral concerns of his comedies, but humor here has turned sinister. His last work for the theater was the most controversial political play of the era, A Game of Chess (1624). The play's expression of the English hatred of Spain and Catholicism ensured it a phenomenal consecutive nine-day run before it was closed after vehement protests by the Spanish ambassador. Middleton avoided arrest by discreetly disappearing. For one last time, the playwright whose plays were produced at court, the man whom King James* accepted as his ghostwriter, demonstrated his attraction for politically self-conscious theater.
M. Heinemann, Puritanism and Theatre: Thomas Middleton and Opposition Drama un­der the Early Stuarts, 1980.
Kirilka Stavreva

Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary. . 2001.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Middleton, Thomas — born April? 1580, London, Eng. died July 4, 1627, Newington Butts, Surrey British playwright. Middleton studied at Oxford University and had written three books of poetry by 1600. He learned to write plays by collaborating with John Webster and… …   Universalium

  • Middleton, Thomas — (1580 1627)    English dramatist, a younger contemporary of William Shakespeare. He often wrote in collabo ration with other playwrights such as William Rowley and Thomas Dekker. He also produced many masques and pageants for public oc casions.… …   Historical Dictionary of Renaissance

  • Middleton, Thomas — (?1570 1627)    He was born in London, the son of prosperous bricklayer, but there is confusion about his date of birth. The DNB and the National Portrait Gallery give 1570, while several others give 1580. He became renowned as a playwright and… …   British and Irish poets

  • Middleton, Thomas — (¿abr.? 1580, Londres, Inglaterra–4 jul. 1627, Newington Butts, Surrey). Dramaturgo británico. Middleton estudió en la Universidad de Oxford y en 1600 ya había publicado tres libros de poesía. Se instruyó en la escritura teatral al colaborar con… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Middleton,Thomas — Mid·dle·ton (mĭdʹl tən), Thomas. 1570? 1627. English playwright whose comedies, written between 1604 and 1611, include A Trick to Catch the Old One and A Chaste Maid in Cheapside. * * * …   Universalium

  • MIDDLETON, THOMAS —    dramatist, born in London, where he was afterwards City Chronicler, married Mary Morbeck, and died; was fond of collaboration, and received assistance in his best work from Drayton, Webster, Dekker, Rowley, and Jonson; his comedies are smart… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Middleton, Thomas — (1570 1627)    Dramatist, was a Londoner and city chronologer, in which capacity he composed a chronicle of the city, now lost. He wrote over 20 plays, chiefly comedies, besides masques and pageants, and collaborated with Dekker, Webster, and… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Thomas Middleton — Thomas Middleton. Thomas Middleton (getauft 18. April 1580; † 1627) war ein englischer Schriftsteller und Poet. Wie auch John Fletcher und Ben Jonson gehörte er zu den erfolgreichsten Stückeschreibern der englischen Renaissance. Gemeinsam mit… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Thomas Middleton — Thomas Middleton. Thomas Middleton (bautizado en Londres, 18 de abril de 1580 Newington Butts, julio de 1627), dramaturgo inglés de teatro renacentista inglés. Contenido …   Wikipedia Español

  • MIDDLETON (T.) — MIDDLETON THOMAS (1570 ou 1580 1627) Les biographes diffèrent sur la date de naissance de Thomas Middleton. On le fait naître tantôt en 1570, tantôt dix ans plus tard. Ce qui est sûr c’est qu’un Thomas Middleton fut baptisé à Londres le 18 avril… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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