Thomas Dekker

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Dekker, Thomas,

c,1570–1632, English dramatist and pamphleteer. Little is known of his life except that he frequently suffered from poverty and served several prison terms for debt. He began his literary career c.1598 working for Philip HensloweHenslowe, Philip
, c.1550–1616, English businessman and theatrical manager. Although he managed the Rose Theatre, Bankside, London, and the Fortune Theatre, Cripplegate, London, he is best remembered for his association with his son-in-law Edward Alleyn and the Admiral's
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. During this period he wrote his most famous play, The Shoemaker's Holiday (1600), a delightful domestic comedy concerning the success of Simon Eyre, a master shoemaker who becomes the lord mayor of London. The play is notable for its realistic depiction of everyday life in 17th-century London as well as for Dekker's strong use of romantic fantasy in his depiction of characters. After collaborating with John WebsterWebster, John,
1580?–1634, English dramatist, b. London. Although little is known of his life, there is evidence that he worked for Philip Henslowe, collaborating with such playwrights as Dekker and Ford.
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 on Westward Ho (1604) and Northward Ho (1605) and with Thomas MiddletonMiddleton, Thomas,
1580–1627, English dramatist, b. London, grad. Queen's College, Oxford, 1598. His early plays were chiefly written in collaboration with Dekker, Drayton, and others.
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 on the first part of The Honest Whore (1604; Part II, 1630), Dekker turned to writing pamphlets, the most notable being The Seven Deadly Sins of London (1606) and The Gull's Hornbook (1609), a satiric account of the fops and gallants of his day. In 1610 he returned to playwriting, writing separately and in collaboration with Middleton (The Roaring Girl, 1611), Philip MassingerMassinger, Philip
, 1583–1640, English dramatist, b. Salisbury. He studied at Oxford (1602–6) but left without a degree, apparently to go to London to write plays. A prolific writer, Massinger wrote more than 40 plays (often in collaboration).
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 (The Virgin Martyr, 1622), John FordFord, John,
1586–c.1640, English dramatist, b. Devonshire. He went to London to study law but was never called to the bar. The early part of his playwriting career was taken up with collaborations, primarily with Dekker.
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, and others. Many of his works, however, have been lost. He was known to have at least partially written over 40 plays, of which about 15 are extant.


See edition of his plays by F. Bowers (4 vol., 1953–61); studies by G. R. Price (1969), T. Bose (1979), and L. Champion (1985).

Dekker, Thomas


Born 1572 (?) in London; died there 1632. English playwright.

Born into the artisan class, Dekker expressed democratic tendencies in his plays (The Pleasant Comedy of Old Fortunatus, 1600, The Shoemaker’s Holiday or the Gentle Craft, published anonymously in 1600, and The Honest Whore, 1604). He and J. Marston wrote the comedy Satiromastix, which was presented in 1601 and published in 1602. With J. Webster, Dekker wrote The Famous History of Sir Thomas Wyatt (1607), with P. Massinger The Virgin Martyr (1622), and with J. Ford and W. Rowley The Witch of Edmonton, which was staged in 1621 and published in 1658. Dekker’s prose works include The Wonderful Year (1603), The Bellman of London (1608), The Gull’s Hornbook (1609), and many satirical pamphlets.


Dramatic Works, vols. 1–4. London, 1873.
Nondramatic Works, vols. 1–5. London, 1884–86.
In Russian translation:
Dobrodetel’naia shliukha. In I. A. Aksenov, Elizavetintsy. Moscow, 1938.
Prazdnik bashmachnika. In Sovremenniki Shekspira, vol. 1. Moscow, 1959.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, fasc. 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945.


References in periodicals archive ?
See Anne Bayman, Thomas Dekker and the Culture of Pamphleteering in Early Modern London (Hampshire, 2014), https://doi.
That this understanding of the play is a result of respect for joint authorship is indicated by the fact that the programme names all the authors (Anthony Munday, Henry Chettle, Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood and William Shakespeare) on its cover page in stark contrast to the RSC programme which carries the legend, "Anthony Munday, William Shakespeare and Others".
In this passage Stow also recorded that the church bells were "nightly rung at eight of the clocke," compounding Dekker's allusion to the London landmark, and not "some church in Famagosta," which Ernest Rhys erroneously notes in his compendium of Dekker's dramatic works, Thomas Dekker (London, 1887), 294 nl.
Cathcart's book devotes two chapters to a lengthy discussion of The Family of Love, a comedy performed by the Children of the King's Revels, published in quarto form in 1608, and variously attributed to Thomas Middleton, Lording Barry, and Thomas Dekker.
The worry is that he will be required to ride for Denis Menchov, as he claimed the polka dot jersey last year only after Menchov's overall hopes were dashed, but Rabobank have made no secret of the fact that a hat-trick for Rasmussen is a top priority, and Menchov also has Thomas Dekker and Michael Boogerd on his side.
Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Dekker, Ben Jonson, Thomas Middleton, John Fletcher and the Other Players in His Story.
Actor THOMAS DEKKER, writing on his MySpace page about the rumors that he was pressured to drop out of Heroes because his character was gay, according to online gossip site Defamer, April 30
3) Thomas Dekker, Old Fortunatus, in Literature Online [accessed 31 March 2005].
The multi-level analysis defines three distinct English sub-genres: rogue pamphlets like The Fraternitie of Vacabondes and Thomas Harman's A Caueat or Warening for Commen Cursetors, cony-catching pamphlets like those of Robert Greene and Thomas Dekker, and picaresque fiction.
4 Thomas Dekker, The Guls Horne-booke (London, 1609), sig.
1 References are to Thomas Middleton and Thomas Dekker, The Roaring Girl, ed.