English Renaissance playwrights belonged to Renaissance era in England which began in late 16th century and lasted till the middle of the 17th century. The renaissance period in English History was marked by a tremendous growth in drama and theatre as an art form.The English Renaissance Playwrights such as Christopher Marlowe, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare wrote popular plays revolving around the themes of history, life and death. Poets such as John Milton and Edmund Spenser produced works reflecting English beliefs on history, religion and life. Other notable English Renaissance Playwrights include George Chapman, Thomas Heywood, John Marston, Cyril Tourneur, Thomes Dekker, Frances Beaumont, Thomas Middleton, Philip Massinger, James Shirley and John Ford.
The artistic works of Marlowe, Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare occupy a significant place in the history of Renaissance drama and theatre and continue to hold sway over the audiences. The writings of the English Renaissance Playwrights could be distinguished by the style of poetic language they used and the unique themes and subject matter of their works. English Renaissance Playwrights wrote classic drama including both tragedy and comedy. They also wrote history plays dealing with the major events of the reign of Early English Kings such as Richard III and Edward II. The plays of the Renaissance era were often written in rhymed verse while prose was used in the comedy plays.
Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593) was the foremost English Renaissance Playwright before the Coming of Shakespeare. During his short literary career, Marlowe became well known for his plays which include Dido Queen of Carthage, Tamburlaine, Parts 1 and 2,The Jew of Malta, Doctor Faustus, Edward II, The Massacre at Paris and The Contention of York and Lancaster. His plays Doctor Faustus and Tamburlaine gained immense popularity while he wielded a great influence on Shakespeare both personally and professionally.
William Shakespeare is one of the outstanding English Renaissance Playwrights of the many writers, poets and playwrights who wrote during this era. Shakespeare wrote thirty-eight plays and a good number of poems during his lifetime. His plays include different genres such as tragedies, comedies, romances, histories , problem plays and political plays which he wrote mainly between the years 1590 and 1613. Some of his famous plays include Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear among others. Shakespeare’s plays are an integral part of English literature with children all over the world studying them in schools while his plays are performed even today.
Jonson (1572-1637) was an English Renaissance Playwright and a major poet of the Renaissance era. Jonson’s early work which gained him recognition was his play, “Every Man in His Humor” which was played at The Globe and featured William Shakespeare as one of the actors. Ben Jonson’s popularity could be judged by the fact that he was recognized as first poet laureate of England though unofficially. His two comedy plays Volpone and The Alchemist made him very popular . In fact he is considered as one of the best English Renaissance playwrights of his era.