(Critical Survey of Literature, Revised Edition)

James Shirley was one of the first playwrights to learn his trade from the printed page rather than in the theater. THE TRAITOR displays a talent carefully nurtured on Marlowe, Shakespeare, and Jonson, but at the same time capable of original, powerful poetry. In his own day his position in the theater was that of competent journeyman playwright, yet his works graced the boards for generations. THE TRAITOR, which remained in theatrical repertoire for over a hundred and fifty years, was attributed falsely in the late seventeenth century to a Jesuit who died in Newgate Prison. Shirley’s reputation has only recently been rescued from critical neglect.