35 Powerful Elizabethan and Jacobean Playscripts

A large selection of links to Elizabethan and Jacobean playscripts located across the web from playwrights Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton, John Webster, Thomas Dekker, Francis Beaumont, and William Rowley. – Justin Cash

Elizabethan Era

The Elizabethan era, denoting the period between 1558 and 1603 under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, is regarded as the apex of the English Renaissance. This epoch signalled a significant cultural and aesthetic movement, particularly within the theatre, which witnessed an unparalleled flourishing of drama and literature.

The most eminent playwright of this period, and arguably of all English literature, is William Shakespeare. Other famous Elizabethan playwrights included Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Middleton, Thomas Dekker, and the writing duo of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, also left an enduring impression on the theatrical world.

Ben Jonson, a rigorous scholar and master of comedic satire, is best known for his plays “Volpone” and “The Alchemist.” He was renowned for his distinctive style that often critiqued the social and political environment of his time. Christopher Marlowe’s plays included “Doctor Faustus” and “Edward II,” both displaying his extraordinary gift for dramatic verse.

The collaboration of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher in Elizabethan theatre set a precedent for theatrical partnerships. Their joint ventures, including “The Knight of the Burning Pestle,” combined elements of comedy, romance, and tragedy, creating a unique dramatic flavour that resonated with audiences of their era.

Jacobean era

The Jacobean era, spanning from 1603 to 1625 during the reign of King James I, marked a distinctive period in British history. This era continued to cultivate the thriving theatrical culture, producing playwrights and plays that made significant contributions to English literature.

Ben Jonson pioneered the ‘comedy of humours,’ a sub-genre which targets human folly. His enduring works, such as “Volpone” and “The Alchemist,” continue to be celebrated for their satirical critique of Jacobean society.

John Webster, known for his grim tragedies, presented a darker side of the Jacobean era. His masterpieces, “The Duchess of Malfi” and “The White Devil,” are admired for their intense exploration of corruption, power, and revenge.

Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, often working in collaboration, were highly popular during this era, known for their tragicomedies that blended elements of tragedy, comedy, and romance.

Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker, though lesser-known today, were prolific dramatists whose contributions significantly shaped Jacobean drama.

Elizabethan and Jacobean Playscripts

Ben Johnson (1572-1637)
Elizabethan and Jacobean Playscripts - Ben Jonson
Ben Jonson (1572-1637), English playwright and poet, was a contemporary of William Shakespeare.
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593)
Christopher Marlowe
Portrait of Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593).
Thomas Middleton (1580-1627)
Francis Beaumont (1584-1616)
John Fletcher (1579-1625)
Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) and John Fletcher (1579-1625)
Thomas Dekker (1572-1632)

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