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Etching of Thomas Middleton depicted in frontispiece of Two New Plays (1657).

Thomas Middleton depicted in frontispiece of Two New Plays (1657).

Thomas Middleton(1580-1627) —‘our other Shakespeare’—is the only other Renaissance playwright to create acknowledged masterpieces of comedy, tragedy, and history. His revolutionary English history play, A Game at Chess, was also the greatest box-office hit of early modern London. His achievements extend beyond these traditional genres to tragicomedies, masques, pageants, pamphlets, epigrams, and Biblical and political commentaries, written alone or in collaboration with Thomas Dekker, John Ford, Thomas Heywood, William Rowley, William Shakespeare, John Webster, and others. Compared by critics to Aristophanes and Ibsen, Racine and Joe Orton, he has influenced writers as diverse as Aphra Behn, Anthony Trollope, and T. S. Eliot. Though repeatedly censored in his own time, Middleton has since come to be particularly admired for his representations of the intertwined pursuits of sex, money, power, and God.

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