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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VI. The Drama to 1642, Part Two.

VIII. Ford and Shirley

§ 4. His collaboration with Dekker

Omitting consideration of works no longer extant, we find Ford’s earliest attempts at dramatic writing made in collaboration with Dekker. The Witch of Edmonton is based on the story of Elizabeth Sawyer, who was executed for witchcraft in 1621, and it was probably written soon after that date. The respective shares of Dekker and Ford in this production are still unsettled, perhaps William Rowley, too, had a share in it; but the directness of the moral lesson conveyed, the witch plot with its comedy and its realism in the treatment of humble life and the picture of the yeoman’s household, are as characteristic of Dekker as they are unlike anything certainly Ford’s. On the other hand, Frank, whose weakness and crime bring about the main tragedy, finds his defence in laying the blame on Fate in the fashion of Ford’s other sinners; and in the scenes where this character is prominent, possibly the larger part of Ford’s share is to be found. The play is a domestic tragedy of great impressiveness, its chief flaw being the failure of the attempt to join the two plots.

The Sun’s-Darling: A Moral Masque (acted 1624, but not published till 1656) is generally believed to have been originally written by Dekker and revised, with additions, by Ford.