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Definition: Massinger, Philip from Philip's Encyclopedia

English dramatist. He wrote more than 40 plays, often in collaboration, many of which are now lost. He is best known for his realistic yet highly symbolic satires of domestic life, such as A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1621-22) and The City Madam (c.1632).


Summary Article: Massinger, Philip
from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

1583-1640

English dramatist

He was born in Salisbury, Wiltshire, the son of a retainer of the Earl of Pembroke. After leaving Oxford without a degree he became a playwright and was associated with Philip Henslowe, who died in 1616. In later years he wrote many plays on his own, but much of his work was done in collaboration with others, particularly John Fletcher. Probably the earliest of Massinger's extant plays is The Unnatural Combat, printed in 1639. The first in order of publication is The Virgin Martyr (1622), partly written by Thomas Dekker. In 1623 The Duke of Milan was published, a fine tragedy, but too rhetorical. Other plays include The Great Duke of Florence (1627) and The Emperor of the East (1631). Nathan Field joined Massinger in writing The Fatal Dowry (1632). The City Madam (licensed 1632), and A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1633), are Massinger's most masterly comedies - brilliant satirical studies, though without warmth or geniality. It is difficult to assess his contribution to the plays which appeared under the names of Francis Beaumont and Fletcher.

  • Dunn, A, Massinger: The Man and the Playwright (1957).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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