William Prynne (). Histrio-mastix. The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, divided into two parts. Wherein it is largely evidenced, by divers arguments. Vol. 6. The Drama to , Part Two. The Cambridge History of English and American Literature: An Encyclopedia in Eighteen Volumes. – Histrio-mastix The players scourge, or, actors tragædie, divided into two parts. Wherein it is largely By William Prynne, an vtter-barrester of Lincolnes Inne.

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1633: Women actors are “notorious whores”, writes Prynne

The Player’s Scourge, or Actor’s Tragedy is a critique of professional theatre and actors, written by the Puritan author and controversialist William Prynne.

While the publishing history of the work is not absolutely clear, Histriomastix was published late in by the bookseller Michael Sparke. It had been in preparation by its author for almost ten years before its printing.

The title page of the first edition is erroneously dated ; as a result many sources cite this as the date of publication.

Women actors are “notorious whores”, writes Prynne

Histriomastix represents the culmination of the Puritan attack hisriomastix the English Renaissance theatre and celebrations such as Christmasas noted in the following: Running to over a thousand pages, and with a main title of 43 lines, Histriomastix marshals a multitude of ancient and medieval authorities against the “sin” of dramatic performance.


The book condemns most aspects of dramatic performance in its era, from the practice of boy actors representing women to the “obscene lascivious love songs, most melodiously chanted out upon the stage Prynne’s book was not by any means the first such attack on the stage, [2] though it certainly was the longest.

Its Puritan theology was in any case unwelcome to the civil authorities, led by Attorney General William Noy. Prynne was imprisoned in but not tried untilat which time he had to appear before the Star Chamber on a charge of seditious libel.

The Norton Anthology of English Literature: The 17th Century: Topic 3: Texts and Contexts

At Prynne’s trial, some fifty separate and allegedly seditious excerpts from the book were quoted; but the one that has attracted most attention from subsequent critics is Prynne’s attack on women actors as “notorious whores. In addition, his book was to be burned by the common hangman, and he was expelled from his university, prohibited from practicing law, and mutilated by the severance of his ears. During his imprisonment, Prynne continued to produce anonymous pamphlets attacking leaders of the Anglican Churchwhich induced the authorities, into inflict further mutilation: Not long before the execution of Charles Iwhich occurred on January 30,a tract began to circulate, datelined “London, printed in the year ,” and bearing the title Mr.


Inthe antiquarian E. Prynne was released from prison during the Long Parliament. The notorious book was never fully suppressed; however, in the next generation, even King Charles II had a copy in his library.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the play by John Marston, see Histriomastix play. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography online ed.

Subscription or UK public library membership required. The Personal Rule of Charles I.

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