Marston, John

born Oct. 7, 1576, Oxfordshire, Eng.
died June 25, 1634, London

English dramatist.

He began his literary career as a poet in 1598 but soon turned to writing for the theatre. One of the most vigorous satirists of his era, he wrote all his plays before taking holy orders in 1609. His best-known work is the tragicomedy The Malcontent (1604), which rails at the iniquities of a lascivious court. Also notable is The Dutch Courtezan (produced 1603–04), one of the cleverest comedies of its time. Though he satirized and feuded with Ben Jonson, the two collaborated on Eastward Hoe (1605; with George Chapman) and Love's Martyr (1607).

* * *

▪ British dramatist
baptized Oct. 7, 1576, Oxfordshire, Eng.
died June 25, 1634, London

      English dramatist, one of the most vigorous satirists of the Shakespearean era, whose best known work is The Malcontent (1604), in which he rails at the iniquities of a lascivious court. He wrote it, as well as other major works, for a variety of children's companie (children's company)s, organized groups of boy actors popular during Elizabethan and Jacobean times.

      Marston was educated at the University of Oxford and resided from 1595 at the Middle Temple, London. He began his literary career in 1598 with The Metamorphosis of Pigmalions Image and Certaine Satyres, an erotic poem in the newly fashionable Ovidian style. In the same year, the rough-hewn, obscure verses of The Scourge of Villanie, in which Marston referred to himself as a “barking satirist,” were widely acclaimed.

      In 1599 Marston began writing for the theatre, producing Histrio-mastix (published in 1610), probably for performance at the Middle Temple. In his character Chrisoganus, a “Master Pedant” and “translating scholler,” the audience was able to recognize the learned Ben Jonson (Jonson, Ben). A brief, bitter literary feud developed between Marston and Jonson—part of “the war of the theatres (theatres, war of the).” In Poetaster (produced 1601) Jonson depicted Marston as Crispinus, a character with red hair and small legs who was given a pill that forced him to disgorge a pretentious vocabulary.

      For the Children of Paul's, a theatre company, Marston wrote Antonio and Mellida (1600); its sequel, Antonio's Revenge (1601); and What You Will (1601). The most memorable is Antonio's Revenge, a savage melodrama of a political power struggle with elements of parody and fantasy.

      In 1604 Marston transferred his allegiance to the boy company at the Blackfriars Theatre (i.e., the Children of the Queen's Revels, later Children of the Blackfriars), for which he wrote his remaining plays. The Dutch Courtezan (produced 1603–04) as well as The Malcontent earned him his place as a dramatist. The former, with its coarse, farcical counterplot, was considered one of the cleverest comedies of its time. Although Marston used all the apparatus of contemporary revenge tragedy in The Malcontent, the wronged hero does not kill any of his tormentors and regains power by sophisticated Machiavellian stratagems.

      In 1605 Marston collaborated with Jonson and with George Chapman on Eastward Ho, a comedy of the contrasts within the life of the city. But the play's satiric references to opportunistic Scottish countrymen of the newly crowned James I gave offense, and all three authors were imprisoned.

      After another imprisonment in 1608, presumably once again for libel, Marston left unfinished The Insatiate Countesse, his most erotic play, and entered the Church of England. He took orders in 1609, married the daughter of James I's chaplain, and in 1616 accepted an ecclesiastical post in Christchurch, Hampshire. In 1633 he apparently insisted upon the removal of his name from the collected edition of six of his plays, The Workes of John Marston, which was reissued anonymously the same year as Tragedies and Comedies.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Marston, John — (1574 1634)    He was born possibly at Coventry, Warwickshire, and graduated from Brasenose College, Oxford, in 1594. He took orders around 1609 and was vicar of Christ Church, Hampshire, from which he resigned (possibly from ill health) in 1631 …   British and Irish poets

  • Marston,John — Mar·ston (märʹstən), John. 1575? 1634. English playwright whose works include The Malcontent and The Dutch Courtezan (both 1604). * * * …   Universalium

  • Marston, John — (7 oct. 1576, Oxfordshire, Inglaterra–25 jun. 1634, Londres). Dramaturgo inglés. En 1598 empezó su carrera literaria como poeta, pero al poco tiempo la dejó para dedicarse a escribir obras de teatro. Uno de los escritores satíricos más… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • MARSTON, JOHN —    English dramatist, so called, was more of a poet than a dramatist, and his dramas are remembered chiefly for the poetic passages they contain; his masterpiece is a comedy entitled What You Will (1575 1634) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Marston, John — (1575? 1634)    Dramatist and satirist, b. at Coventry, was ed. at Oxf. In later life he gave up writing for the stage, took orders, and was incumbent of Christchurch, Hants, 1616 31. He began his literary career in 1598 with satire, The Scourge… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Marston, John Westland and Philip Bourke — (1819 1890)    • John, the father, 1819 1890    Born at Boston, Lincolnshire, the son of a Baptist minister, his interest in literature took him away from his career in law. Interested in mysticism, he became editor of The Psyche magazine. He… …   British and Irish poets

  • MARSTON, JOHN WESTLAND —    dramatist, born at Boston, Lincolnshire; wrote several dramas, Strathmore and Marie de Méranie among the number (1819 1890) …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • MARSTON (J.) — MARSTON JOHN (1575? 1634) Né à Coventry, d’une mère italienne, John Marston fut inscrit sur les registres de Brasenove College (Oxford) en février 1592 et s’inscrivit au Middle Temple, à Londres, plus par déférence envers son père, qui y était… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • John Marston — For other people named John Marston, see John Marston (disambiguation). John Marston (baptised 7 October 1576 – London, 25 June 1634) was an English poet, playwright and satirist during the late Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Although his… …   Wikipedia

  • Marston — /mahr steuhn/, n. John, c1575 1634, English dramatist and satirical poet. * * * (as used in expressions) Hefner Hugh Marston Marston Moor Battle of Marston John * * * …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.