A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Marston, John

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Marston, John (1575?-1634). -- Dramatist and satirist, b. at Coventry, was ed. at Oxf. In later life he gave up writing for the stage, took orders, and was incumbent of Christchurch, Hants, 1616-31. He began his literary career in 1598 with satire, The Scourge of Villanie and The Metamorphosis of Pygmalion's Image (1598), the latter of which was burned by order of Archbishop Whitgift. In 1602 appeared The History of Antonio and Mellida, and its sequel, Antonio's Revenge, ridiculed by Ben Jonson. In repayment of this M. co-operated with Dekker in attacking Jonson in Satiromastix (a Whip for the Satirist). A reconciliation, however, took place, and his comedy, The Malcontent (1604), was dedicated to J., another, Eastward Ho (1605), was written in collaboration with him and Chapman. Other plays of his are Sophonisba, What You Will (1607), and possibly The Insatiate Countess (1613). Amid much bombast and verbiage there are many fine passages in M.'s dramas, especially where scorn and indignation are the motives. Sombre and caustic, he has been called "a screech-owl among the singing birds."