Edward Ravenscroft

Last updated

Edward Ravenscroft Edward Ravenscroft Esqr (BM 1860,1013.73).jpg
Edward Ravenscroft

Edward Ravenscroft (c. 1654–1707) was an English dramatist who belonged to an ancient Flintshire family.

He was entered at the Middle Temple, but devoted his attention mainly to literature. [1] Among his pieces are:

He wrote a total of twelve plays, in which he adapted freely from Molière, William Shakespeare and others. He ventured to decry the heroic drama, and John Dryden retaliated by satirizing his Mamamouchi, a foolish adaptation from Molière's Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Monsieur de Pourceaugnac , in the prologue to the Assignation (Dryden, Works, ed. Scott, iv. 345 seq.) [1]

Ravenscroft was the first critic to posit that Shakespeare's play Titus Andronicus was not originally written by him. In 1686 he revived the play at the Drury Lane Theatre, which he entitled Titus Andronicus, or the rape of Lavinia, [2] he wrote in the address "to the Reader", "I have been told by some anciently conversant with the Stage, that it was not Originally his (Shakespeare's), but brought by a private Author to be Acted and he only gave some Master-touches to one or two of the Principal Parts or Characters; this I am apt to believe, because 'tis the most incorrect and indigested piece in all his Works, It seems rather a heap of Rubbish then a Structure." This position is now known as the "Ravenscroft tradition" within literary circles. [3] [4]

Related Research Articles

<i>Titus Andronicus</i> play by Shakespeare

Titus Andronicus is a tragedy by William Shakespeare believed to have been written between 1588 and 1593, probably in collaboration with George Peele. It is thought to be Shakespeare's first tragedy and is often seen as his attempt to emulate the violent and bloody revenge plays of his contemporaries, which were extremely popular with audiences throughout the 16th century.

Thomas Otway 17th-century English writer and dramatist

Thomas Otway was an English dramatist of the Restoration period, best known for Venice Preserv'd, or A Plot Discover'd (1682).

Dorset Garden Theatre Historic London theatre

The Dorset Garden Theatre in London, built in 1671, was in its early years also known as the Duke of York's Theatre, or the Duke's Theatre. In 1685, King Charles II died and his brother, the Duke of York, was crowned as James II. When the Duke became King, the theatre became the Queen's Theatre in 1685, referring to James' second wife, Mary of Modena. The name remained when William III and Mary II came to the throne in 1689.

Thomas Duffet, or Duffett, was an Irish playwright and songwriter active in England in the 1670s. He is remembered for his popular songs and his burlesques of the serious plays of John Dryden, Thomas Shadwell, Elkanah Settle, and Sir William Davenant.

Cave Underhill

Cave Underhill (1634–1710?) was an English actor in comedy roles.

Although traditionally Titus Andronicus has been seen as one of Shakespeare's least respected plays, its fortunes have changed somewhat in the latter half of the twentieth century, with numerous scholars arguing that the play is more accomplished than has hitherto been allowed for. In particular, scholars have argued that the play is far more thematically complex than has traditionally been thought, and features profound insights into ancient Rome, Elizabethan society, and the human condition. Such scholars tend to argue that these previously unacknowledged insights have only become apparent during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries as only now has the ultraviolent content of the play achieved a sense of relevance. For example, in his 1987 edition of the play for the Contemporary Shakespeare series, A.L. Rowse writes; "in the civilised Victorian age the play could not be performed because it could not be believed. Such is the horror of our own age, with the appalling barbarities of prison camps and resistance movements paralleling the torture and mutilation and feeding on human flesh of the play, that it has ceased to be improbable." Similarly, director Julie Taymor, who staged a production Off-Broadway in 1994 and directed a film version in 1999, says she was drawn to the play because she found it to be the most "relevant of Shakespeare's plays for the modern era;" She feels that the play has more relevance for us than it had for the Victorians; "it seems like a play written for today, it reeks of now." Because of this newfound relevance, previously unrecognised thematic strands have thus come to the forefront.

Authorship of <i>Titus Andronicus</i>

The authorship of Titus Andronicus has been debated since the late 17th century. Titus Andronicus, probably written between 1588 and 1593, appeared in three quarto editions from 1594 to 1601 with no named author. It was first published under William Shakespeare's name in the 1623 First Folio of his plays. However, as with some of his early and late plays, scholars have long surmised that Shakespeare might have collaborated with another playwright. Other plays have also been examined for evidence of co-authorship, but none has been as closely scrutinised or as consistently questioned than Titus. The principal contender for the co-authorship is George Peele.

Spelling of Shakespeares name Several forms of the name of the English playwright have been used.

The spelling of William Shakespeare's name has varied over time. It was not consistently spelled any single way during his lifetime, in manuscript or in printed form. After his death the name was spelled variously by editors of his work, and the spelling was not fixed until well into the 20th century.

Anthony Leigh English actor

Anthony Leigh was a celebrated English comic actor.

Mary, Lady Slingsby, born Aldridge, was an English actress. After a marriage lasting 1670 to 1680 to John Lee, an actor, during which she was on the stage as Mrs. Lee, she was widowed. She then married Sir Charles Slingsby, 2nd Baronet, a nephew of Sir Robert Slingsby, and performed as Lady Slingsby. Theatre historians have pointed out the difficulty in identifying her roles in the period when Elinor Leigh, wife of Anthony Leigh, was performing as Mrs. Leigh, because the homophones "Lee" and "Leigh" were not consistently spelled at the time.

"The Lamentable and Tragical History of Titus Andronicus,"also called"Titus Andronicus' Complaint," is a ballad from the 17th century about the fictional Roman general, Titus, and his revenge cycle with the Queen of the Goths. Events in the ballad take place near the end of the Roman Empire, and the narrative of the ballad parallels the plot of William Shakespeare's play Titus Andronicus. Scholarly debate exists as to which text may have existed first, the ballad or the play. The ballad itself was first entered on the Stationers' Register in 1594, the same year the play was entered. Surviving copies of the ballad can be found in the British Library, in the Huntington Library, and at Magdalene College, Cambridge. Online copies of the facsimiles are also available for public consumption at sites such as the English Broadside Ballad Archive.

John Bowman (1651–1739) was a British stage actor. He began his career in the Duke's Company at the Dorset Garden Theatre. In 1692 he married Elizabeth Watson, who acted under the name Elizabeth Bowman. He later switched to act at the Drury Lane Theatre. He is also referred to as John Boman.

Joseph Williams was an English stage actor of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century.

Thomas Gillow was an English stage actor of the Restoration era. His name was sometimes written Gilloe or Gillo.

George Bright was an English stage actor of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century. He specialised in playing "comic dullards, fops and bouncy servants". After beginning his career in Dublin he joined the Duke's Company at the Dorset Garden Theatre in 1679 and then became part of the merged United Company in 1682.

John Richards was an English stage actor of the seventeenth century. An early member of the Duke's Company in London, he was lured away to the new Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin by John Ogilby. He was back with the Duke's at the Dorset Garden Theatre from the mid-1670s, but while in Ireland he was able to play major roles his English performances were generally supporting parts.

Margaret Osborne or Osborn was an English stage actress of the seventeenth century She was a long-standing member of the Duke's Company from 1671, acting at Lincoln's Inn Fields and the Dorset Garden Theatre. She went to Dublin to work at the Smock Alley Theatre in 1677, but returned to the Duke's Company around two years later She subsequently joined the merged United Company in 1682 and was still acting in the 1690s.

Philip Griffin was an English stage actor of the seventeenth century and early eighteenth century. He joined the King's Company at Drury Lane during the 1670s, and was later a member of the merged United Company from 1685. He was named as a manager at Drury Lane in 1695, but then took military service and was styled as Captain Griffin. In 1699 he went to act in Dublin as part of Joseph Ashbury's company at the Smock Alley Theatre, but was back in London where he acted until retired from the stage in 1707.

Henry Harris (actor) English actor and theatre manager

Henry Harris was an English stage actor and theatre manager. Initially a painter he was a founder member of the new Duke's Company in 1660 following the Restoration which established itself at the old Salisbury Court Theatre before moving to the new Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre shortly afterwards. Due to his background Harris may have been a set designer and painter during his early years with the company. However, by 1661 he was acting, and his first recorded role was in William Davenant's The Siege of Rhodes that summer. He quickly established himself as the second actor in the troupe after Thomas Betterton.

Marmaduke Watson was an English stage actor of the seventeenth century. Part of the King's Company based at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, he was one of the actors who sided with Charles Killigrew during a dispute in the company in 1677. In 1682 when the United Company was formed he left and went to Dublin to join the Smock Alley Theatre. He later returned to London where his final known performances were with Thomas Betterton's company at the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre.


  1. 1 2 Wikisource-logo.svg One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Ravenscroft, Edward". Encyclopædia Britannica . 22 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 927–930.
  2. "Titus Andronicus, or, the rape of Lavinia acted at the Theatre Royall : A tragedy, alter'd from Mr. Shakespears works / By Mr. Edw. Ravenscroft".
  3. Shakespeare, William (1839). "The Pictorial Edition of the Works of Shakspere: Doubtful plays &c".
  4. Shakespeare, William (1600). "Titus Andronicus Partly by William Shakspere: The First Quarto, 1600".