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Jonson, Ben (1573?-1637)
The workes of Benjamin Jonson.
London: Printed by Richard Bishop, 1640.

Image from Jonson's Works

The liveliness of Jonson's plays and the brilliance of his language have earned him a reputation as one of the great playwrights in English literature. After a brief term at bricklaying, his stepfather's trade, and after military service in Flanders, he began working for Philip Henslowe as an actor and playwright. In 1598 he was tried for killing another actor in a duel but escaped execution by claiming right of clergy (he could read and write).

His first important play, Every Man in His Humour, was produced in 1598, with Shakespeare in the cast, but his great period, both artistically and financially, began in 1606 with the production of Volpone. Jonson exerted a strong influence over contemporary authors and his plays, written along classical lines, are marked by uncompromising satire, liveliness of action, and by numerous humorous characters, whose single passion or oddity overshadows all their other traits.

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