Thomas Heywood and ‘the antique world’
in Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition
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This introduction reviews the critical state of play in the study of Thomas Heywood and the classical tradition, acknowledging the collection’s debt to the innovative work of M. L. Stapleton on Heywood’s translations of Ovid, Richard Rowland’s dedicated studies of the author and the edition of Troia Britanica coordinated by Yves Peyré. It also explores Heywood’s idiosyncratic classicism across his long career. A discussion of A Woman Killed with Kindness and The Rape of Lucrece shows that Heywood’s non-classical plays can be productively read through a classical lens, and suggests the crucial interaction between his classical and non-classical oeuvre. Heywood’s very diverse genres, we argue – translation, drama, poetry, compendia, pageants, panegyrics and pamphlets – are porous, and his classical creativity is a thread that runs through them. Classical interests also forge telling connections across Heywood’s different creative periods and offer an illuminating perspective on his authorial self-fashioning. Beginning by playing with myth in an epyllion (like many contemporaries), he increasingly turned himself into a distinctive vernacular humanist for whom myth became a way of thinking: educating a wider audience, moralising about society, writing about past and present, and perhaps above all sharing the pleasure of stories.


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