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Thomaso, or the Wanderer is mid-seventeenth-century stage play, a two-part comedy written by Thomas Killigrew, The work was composed in Madrid, c. 1654. Thomaso is based on Killigrew's personal experiences as a Royalist exile during the era of the Commonwealth, when he was abroad continuously from 1647 to 1660.

Thomas Killigrew 17th-century English dramatist and theatre manager

Thomas Killigrew was an English dramatist and theatre manager. He was a witty, dissolute figure at the court of King Charles II of England.

Madrid Capital of Spain

Madrid is the capital of Spain and the largest municipality in both the Community of Madrid and Spain as a whole. The city has almost 3.3 million inhabitants and a metropolitan area population of approximately 6.5 million. It is the third-largest city in the European Union (EU), smaller than only London and Berlin, and its monocentric metropolitan area is the third-largest in the EU, smaller only than those of London and Paris. The municipality covers 604.3 km2 (233.3 sq mi).


Thomaso is now best known as the foundation upon which Aphra Behn constructed her finest play, The Rover, or the Banished Cavaliers (1677).

Aphra Behn British playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer

Aphra Behn was an English playwright, poet, translator and fiction writer from the Restoration era. As one of the first English women to earn her living by her writing, she broke cultural barriers and served as a literary role model for later generations of women authors. Rising from obscurity, she came to the notice of Charles II, who employed her as a spy in Antwerp. Upon her return to London and a probable brief stay in debtors' prison, she began writing for the stage. She belonged to a coterie of poets and famous libertines such as John Wilmot, Lord Rochester. She wrote under the pastoral pseudonym Astrea. During the turbulent political times of the Exclusion Crisis, she wrote an epilogue and prologue that brought her into legal trouble; she thereafter devoted most of her writing to prose genres and translations. A staunch supporter of the Stuart line, she declined an invitation from Bishop Burnet to write a welcoming poem to the new king William III. She died shortly after.

<i>The Rover</i> (play) play

The Rover or The Banish'd Cavaliers is a play in two parts that is written by the English author Aphra Behn. It is a revision of Thomas Killigrew's play Thomaso, or The Wanderer (1664), and depicts the amorous adventures of a group of Englishmen in Naples at Carnival time. According to Restoration poet John Dryden, it "lacks the manly vitality of Killigrew's play, but shows greater refinement of expression." The play stood for three centuries as "Behn's most popular and most respected play." The Rover features multiple plot lines, dealing with the amorous adventures of a group of Englishmen and women in Naples at Carnival time.


Though Killigrew drew upon Mateo Alemán's picaresque novel Guzmán de Alfarache for source material, his Thomaso is generally considered strongly autobiographical; it is no accident that the title is the Spanish version of the playwright's given name. Like his earlier comedy The Parson's Wedding (but unlike the tragicomedies that make of most of his dramatic output), Thomaso features abundant bawdy humour and sexual frankness, to the discomfiture of generations of traditional critics. Killigrew's heroine Angellica speaks out for the emotional freedom of women, and Thomaso is an unblushing libertine.

Mateo Alemán novelist, writer

Mateo Alemán y del Nero was a Spanish novelist and writer.

The picaresque novel is a genre of prose fiction that depicts the adventures of a roguish, but "appealing hero", of low social class, who lives by his wits in a corrupt society. Picaresque novels typically adopt a realistic style, with elements of comedy and satire. This style of novel originated in Spain in 1554 and flourished throughout Europe for more than 200 years, though the term "picaresque novel" was only coined in 1810. It continues to influence modern literature. The term is also sometimes used to describe works, like Cervantes' Don Quixote and Charles Dickens' Pickwick Papers, which only contain some of the genre's elements.

The Parson's Wedding is a Caroline era stage play, a comedy written by Thomas Killigrew. Often regarded as the author's best play, the drama has sometimes been considered an anticipation of Restoration comedy, written a generation before the Restoration; "its general tone foreshadows the comedy of the Restoration from which the play is in many respects indistinguishable."

Critical responses to autobiographical works often confuse the author and the work. Theatrical rival Richard Flecknoe published a book titled The Life of Thomaso the Wanderer (1676) that lambasted Killigrew with a sweeping personal attack. Flecknoe asserted that Killigrew was "born to discredit all the Professions he was of; Traveller, Courtier, Soldier, and Buffoon." [1]

Richard Flecknoe was an English dramatist, poet and musician. He is remembered for being made the butt of satires by Andrew Marvell in 1681 and by John Dryden in Mac Flecknoe in 1682.


Both parts of Thomaso were first published in Comedies and Tragedies, the collected edition of Killigrew's plays that Henry Herringman issued in 1664. In the collected edition, Thomaso is dedicated to "the fair and kind friends to Prince Palatine Polixander."

Henry Herringman (1628–1704) was a prominent London bookseller and publisher in the second half of the 17th century. He is especially noted for his publications in English Renaissance drama and English Restoration drama; he was the first publisher of the works of John Dryden. He conducted his business under the sign of the Blue Anchor in the lower walk of the New Exchange.

The printed text divides the play into a Part 1 and Part 2 of five Acts each. Critics note, however, that Part 1 provides no dramatic denouement at its end, so that the work is, in effect, a single ten-Act work (a characteristic Thomaso shares with the author's other double dramas, Cicilia and Clorinda and Bellamira Her Dream ).

Cicilia and Clorinda, or Love in Arms is a 17th-century closet drama, a two-part, ten-Act tragicomedy by Thomas Killigrew. The work was composed in Italy c. 1650–51, and first published in 1664.

Abortive performance

Thomaso was never performed in the seventeenth century, and certainly not since; many critics regard it as unactable, and place it securely in the category of closet drama. Yet Killigrew once attempted to mount a production – and an extraordinary one. In October 1664, Killigrew's King's Company gave an unprecedented all-female-cast production of his Parson's Wedding. At the same time, Killigrew prepared a similar all-women staging of Thomaso. [2] A cast list for the intended production survives; the leading actress Anne Marshall was intended for the role of Angelica, Mary Knep was cast as Lucette, and beginner Nell Gwyn was also in the cast. [3] (The list assigns the 14-year-old "Nelly" the part of "Paulina, a courtesan of the first rank" [4] — a role she would soon fill in real life.)

The production, meant for November 1664, never materialised, perhaps due to the inherent dramaturgic limitations of Killigrew's expansive text. (Gwyn's stage debut had to wait another four months.)


Thomaso is a young English gentleman living in Spain during the English Interregnum; he belongs to a set of other Royalist exiles, some of them serving in the Spanish army. The two plays deliver a very episodic picture of his life and adventures, through ten Acts and 73 scenes.

Thomaso impresses his compatriots with his wardrobe and his wit. He carries on a sexual liaison with the famous courtesan Angellica, and accepts gifts from her; she defends his conduct. Yet Thomaso also can maintain a more normal and morally and socially correct relationship with a woman when he chooses, and as he does with the virtuous (and wealthy) Serulina. (The play never reconciles the two erotic modes.) [5]

A comic and farcical subplot centres on the character Edwardo, who is a foolish pretender to the gentility and honour that Thomaso genuinely possesses.

Critics and commentators have not hesitated to point out the obvious faults in Thomaso; verdicts like "rambling, long-winded" [6] and "indulgent and inert" [7] are common in the relevant literature.

The Rover

Aphra Behn was a friend and colleague of Killigrew; her use of Thomaso for The Rover should not be misunderstood as any sort of artistic abuse or plagiarism.

"Aphra improved greatly on the original, and, in the first of the two plays she made from it, produced a masterpiece of light-hearted comedy, broad and outspoken, but not lacking in beauty of form and language. It was certainly one of the best plays of romantic intrigue written during the Restoration." [8]

Behn's Willmore is her version of Killigrew/Thomaso. [9]

The modern increase in critical attention to Behn and her works has meant an accompanying increase in attention to Behn's antecedents, including Killigrew's Thomaso. [10] Commentators deplore Killigrew's misogyny — though some also note the curious streak of proto-feminism in his work, as when Angellica protests the "slavery" that women suffer.

Modern productions of The Rover have occasionally supplemented Behn's text with material from Thomaso. [11]

Related Research Articles

Restoration comedy theatrical genre rooted in late 17th-century England

"Restoration comedy" is English comedy written and performed in the Restoration period from 1660 to 1710. Comedy of manners is used as a synonym of Restoration comedy. After public stage performances had been banned for 18 years by the Puritan regime, the re-opening of the theatres in 1660 signalled a renaissance of English drama. Sexually explicit language was encouraged by King Charles II (1660–1685) personally and by the rakish style of his court. Historian George Norman Clark argues:

The best-known fact about the Restoration drama is that it is immoral. The dramatists did not criticize the accepted morality about gambling, drink, love, and pleasure generally, or try, like the dramatists of our own time, to work out their own view of character and conduct. What they did was, according to their respective inclinations, to mock at all restraints. Some were gross, others delicately improper....The dramatists did not merely say anything they liked: they also intended to glory in it and to shock those who did not like it.

Nell Gwyn Royal mistress

Eleanor Gwyn, more commonly known as Nell Gwyn, was a prolific celebrity figure of the Restoration period. Praised by Samuel Pepys for her comic performances as one of the first actresses on the English stage, she became best known for being a long-time mistress of King Charles II of England and Scotland. Called "pretty, witty Nell" by Pepys, she has been regarded as a living embodiment of the spirit of Restoration England and has come to be considered a folk heroine, with a story echoing the rags-to-royalty tale of Cinderella. Gwyn had two sons by King Charles: Charles Beauclerk (1670–1726); and James Beauclerk (1671–1680). Charles was created Earl of Burford and later Duke of St. Albans.

<i>Oroonoko</i> novel by Aphra Behn

Oroonoko: or, the Royal Slave is a short work of prose fiction by Aphra Behn (1640–1689), published in 1688 by William Canning and reissued with two other fictions later that year. The eponymous hero is an African prince from Coramantien who is tricked into slavery and sold to British colonists in Surinam where he meets the narrator. Behn's text is a first-person account of his life, love, rebellion, and execution.

The Conquest of Granada is a Restoration era stage play, a two-part tragedy written by John Dryden that was first acted in 1670 and 1671 and published in 1672. It is notable both as a defining example of the "heroic drama" pioneered by Dryden, and as the subject of later satire.

John Tatham was an English dramatist of the mid-17th century.

Restoration literature

Restoration literature is the English literature written during the historical period commonly referred to as the English Restoration (1660–1689), which corresponds to the last years of the direct Stuart reign in England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. In general, the term is used to denote roughly homogeneous styles of literature that center on a celebration of or reaction to the restored court of Charles II. It is a literature that includes extremes, for it encompasses both Paradise Lost and the Earl of Rochester's Sodom, the high-spirited sexual comedy of The Country Wife and the moral wisdom of The Pilgrim's Progress. It saw Locke's Treatises of Government, the founding of the Royal Society, the experiments and holy meditations of Robert Boyle, the hysterical attacks on theaters from Jeremy Collier, and the pioneering of literary criticism from John Dryden and John Dennis. The period witnessed news become a commodity, the essay develop into a periodical art form, and the beginnings of textual criticism.

Margaret Hughes British actress

Margaret Hughes, also Peg Hughes or Margaret Hewes, is often credited as the first professional actress on the English stage. Hughes was also famous as the mistress of the English Civil War general and later Restoration admiral, Prince Rupert of the Rhine.

The King's Company was one of two enterprises granted the rights to mount theatrical productions in London at the start of the English Restoration. It existed from 1660 to 1682.

Dukes Company theatre company in 17th-century London

The Duke's Company was a theatre company chartered by King Charles II at the start of the Restoration era, 1660. Sir William Davenant was manager of the company under Prince James, Duke of York's patronage. During this period, theatres began to flourish again after being closed due to restrictions throughout the Interregnum and English Civil War.

The Novella is a Caroline era stage play, a comedy written by Richard Brome. It was first published in the 1653 Brome collection Five New Plays, issued by the booksellers Humphrey Moseley, Richard Marriot, and Thomas Dring.

Claricilla is a Caroline era stage play, a tragicomedy written by Thomas Killigrew. The drama was acted c. 1636 by Queen Henrietta's Men at the Cockpit Theatre, and first published in 1641. The play was an early success that helped to confirm Killigrew's choice of artistic career.

Mary Knep, also Knepp, Nepp, Knip, or Knipp, was an English actress, one of the first generation of female performers to appear on the public stage during the Restoration era.

Anne Marshall, also Mrs. Anne Quin, was a leading English actress of the Restoration era, one of the first generation of women performers to appear on the public stage in England.

Rebecca Marshall was a noted English actress of the Restoration era, one of the first generation of women performers on the public stage in Britain. She was the younger sister of Anne Marshall, another prominent actress of the period.

Katherine Corey was an English actress of the Restoration era, one of the first generation of female performers to appear on the public stage in Britain. Corey played with the King's Company and the United Company, and had one of the longest careers of any actress in her generation. In "The humble petition of Katherine Corey", she stated that she "was the first and is the last of all the actresses that were constituted by King Charles the Second at His Restauration."

<i>The Feignd Curtizans</i> play

The Feign'd Curtizans is a 1679 comedic stage play by the English author Aphra Behn. Behn dedicated the play, originally performed at the Duke's Company in London, to the well-known actress and mistress of King Charles II, Nell Gwyn.


  1. Dale B. J. Randall, Winter Fruit: English Drama, 1642–1660, Lexington, KY, University Press of Kentucky, 1995; p. 281.
  2. Elizabeth Howe, The First English Actresses: Woman and Drama, 1660–1700, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1992; p. 58.
  3. Robert D. Hume and Harold Love, eds., Plays, Poems, and Miscellaneous Writings Associated With George Villiers, Second Duke of Buckingham, Vol. 1, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2007; pp. 17–18.
  4. Charles Beauclerk, Nell Gwyn: Mistress to a King, New York, Grove Press, 2005; p. 73.
  5. Kathleen M. Lynch, The Social Mode of Restoration Comedy, New York, Macmillan, 1926; pp. 130–1.
  6. John Harold Wilson, Nell Gwyn, Royal Mistress, New York, Pellegrini & Cudahy, 1952; p. 31.
  7. Susan Carlson, "Cannibalizing and Carnivalizing: Reviving Aphra Behn's The Rover," Theatre Journal, Vol. 47 No. 4 (December 1995), pp. 517–39; see p. 519.
  8. George Woodcock, Aphra Behn, the English Sappho, New York, Black Rose, 1989; p. 123.
  9. Peter Thomson, The Cambridge Introduction to English Theatre, 1660–1900, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2006; p. 7.
  10. Hero Chalmers, Royalist Women Writers, 1650–1689, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 2004.
    Nancy Copeland, "'Once a whore and ever?' Whore and Virgin in The Rover and Its Antecedents," Restoration Vol. 16 (1992), pp. 20–27.
    Thomas N. Corns, A History of Seventeenth-Century English Literature, London, Blackwell, 2007.
    Jones DeRitter, "The Gypsy, The Rover, and The Wanderer: Aphra Behn's Revision of Thomas Killigrew," Restoration Vol. 10 (1986), pp. 82–92.
    Karen Raber, Dramatic Difference: Gender, Class, and Genre in Early Modern Closet Drama, Newark, DE, University of Delaware Press, 2002.
    Laura J. Rosenthal, Playwrights and Plagiarists in Early Modern England: Gender, Authorship, Literary Property, Ithaca, NY, Cornell University Press, 1996.
    Harold M. Weber, The Restoration Rake-Hero: Transformations in Sexual Understanding in Seventeenth-Century England, Madison, WI, University of Wisconsin Press, 1986.
  11. Carlson, "Cannibalizing and Carnivalizing," pp. 520, 522.

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