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Ben Jonson in the Romantic Age$
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Tom Lockwood

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280780

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280780.001.0001

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Theatrical Jonson

Theatrical Jonson

(p.27) 2 Theatrical Jonson
Ben Jonson in the Romantic Age

Tom Lockwood (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter locates Jonson in the context of the recent return of critical interest in the Romantic theatre, and argues that his plays, long thought to have left the stage with the retirement of David Garrick in 1776, in fact remained part of the repertory up to 1832. In doing so, it takes up and explores various examples: an annotated promptbook of Every Man In his Humour, printed in 1776, but containing preparations for, and records of, professional theatre productions from 1816, 1828, and 1832; George Colman's 1776 revival and revision of Epicoene, a production unhappily starring the young Sarah Siddons; the continued popularity of Francis Gentleman's The Tobacconist, a 1776 adaptation of The Alchemist, that increasingly attracted political responses through the period; and the history of Every Man In his Humour in productions mounted by J. P. Kemble, starring G. F. Cooke as Kitely, and later those in which Edmund Kean dazzled in the role. These examples place Jonson in the professional London theatre, in the professional theatres of York and Bath, and in the amateur theatre of the period. The chapter closes with some reflections — produced from an allusion in Walter Scott's account of the Romantic stage to Jonson's earlier spat with Inigo Jones — on Jonson's place in all of this: a period in which his texts move agilely from Garrick's last years at Drury Lane, through Kemble's difficulties during the OP riots at Covent Garden, and finally into the pages of John Genest's pioneering Some Account of the English Stage, published in 1832, the same year in which Every Man In his Humour was last annotated for performance in the promptbook with which the chapter began.

Keywords:   David Garrick, J. P. Kemble, Edmund Kean, Walter Scott, Covent Garden, Drury Lane, Epicoene, Every Man In his Humour, The Alchemist, theatre

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