Thomas Kyd

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Kyd or Kid, Thomas,

1558–94, English dramatist, b. London. The son of a scrivener, he evidently followed his father's profession for a few years. In the 1580s he began writing plays. His literary fame rests on The Spanish Tragedy (c.1586), which initiated an important Elizabethan dramatic genre—the revenge tragedy. Popular throughout the 17th cent., The Spanish Tragedy is notable for its exciting action, splendid rhetoric, and complex delineation of character. Kyd is believed by some scholars to be the author of an earlier version of Hamlet, which ShakespeareShakespeare, William,
1564–1616, English dramatist and poet, b. Stratford-upon-Avon. He is widely considered the greatest playwright who ever lived. Life
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 used as the basis of his play. In 1593, Kyd was accused of holding unorthodox religious and moral views; he was arrested and subjected to torture. Although he extricated himself by implicating his friend Christopher MarloweMarlowe, Christopher,
1564–93, English dramatist and poet, b. Canterbury. Probably the greatest English dramatist before Shakespeare, Marlowe, a shoemaker's son, was educated at Cambridge and he went to London in 1587, where he became an actor and dramatist for the Lord
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, his reputation was severely marred, and he died in poverty the following year.


See studies by A. Freeman (1967) and C. L. Barber (1988).

Kyd, Thomas


Born Nov. 6, 1558, in London; died there in 1594. English playwright.

Kyd was a representative of the “university wits” in Elizabethan drama. He is the author of The Spanish Tragedy (c. 1587), a work that is typical of the pre-Shakespearean “bloody drama.” Kyd’s influence, particularly on Shakespeare, reveals itself in the delineation of character through the development of the action.


The Works. Oxford, 1901.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, fase. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1943.
Bowers, F. T. Elizabethan Revenge Tragedy, 1587–1642. Princeton, 1940.
Rossiter, A. P. English Drama From Early Times to the Elizabethans. New York [1959].
Murray, P. B. Thomas Kyd. New York [1969].