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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.

IV. Thomas Heywood

§ 9. Elizabethan Domestic Drama

In any case, when, in 1603 or earlier, Heywood produced A Woman Kilde with Kindnesse, which was first printed in 1607, he was not moving on untrodden ground. The germs of the species which we call domestic drama, and to whose growth in English dramatic literature incidental reference has already been made in this volume and in its predecessor, are discernible in the realistic scenes introduced into the mysteries as novelties by way of relief, and in those interludes in which, as in the case of Ingelend’ Disobedient Child, a serious treatment of a realistic situation or plot was essayed. In due course, however, the choice of actions localised in English everyday life fell more or less into disuse, as the regular drama developed itself, and as themes derived from national history, on the one hand, or from classical and Italian sources, on the other, found favour with an age filled with high aspirations and eager for the glittering contents of the newly opened treasure house. But a reaction was not long in coming; as Heywood repeatedly hints, new subjects were a necessity for the stage; and, soon after the beginning of the last decade of the sixteenth century, and for several years in the seventeenth, there was a constant flow of plays dealing with actions taken from ordinary life, and coming home to men’ business and bosoms with a directness alien both to tragoedia cothurnata and to half allegorical, half satirical comedy.