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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
Volume VIII. The Age of Dryden.

V. The Restoration Drama

§ 6. Thomas Killigrew’s and Sir William D’Avenant’s Later Plays

Thomas Killigrew, a member of a loyal Cornish family, had been reared a page in the court of Charles I, and continued a favourite companion of that monarch’s son and successor. As groom of his majesty’s bedchamber, Killigrew remained a privileged servant in the royal household and was reputed, from his ready colloquial wit, the king’s jester. His earlier plays were written abroad and acted before the closing of the theatres. Among them are The Prisoners, Claracilla and The Princess, tragi-comedies of approved adventurous romantic type. They mark, in their extravagance of adventure, exaggerated character and inflated rhetoric, a step from the immediate imitators of Fletcher to the restoration heroic play, and group naturally with the like efforts of Sir William Lower and Lodowick Carlell. A later tragi-comedy by Killigrew, Cecilia and Clorinda, borrowed its subject, in part, from Le Grand Cyrus, a sufficient indication, perhaps, of the general nature of the poet’s sources for serious plays. Among several comedies that appear in the collected edition of Killigrew’s works, 1664, The Parson’s Wedding, likewise a pre-restoration play, is the most conspicuous. This is a comedy of almost unexampled coarseness, a quality which the author had not found in his source, Calderon’s Dama Duende. Many of Killigrew’s plays were acted after the reopening of the theatres and The Parson’s Wedding enjoyed unusual popularity. Two other Killigrews, brothers of Thomas, brought their contributions to the stage. Sir William Killigrew published, in 1664, three plays, Selindra, Pandora and Ormasdes, or Love and Friendship. The last was subsequently rewritten under the influence of the new heroic drama. A fourth dramatic work of this author, The Siege of Urbin, has been with justice described as “a capable and sympathetic play.” Not all of these were acted. Henry Killigrew, a younger brother, wrote but one play, so far as is known. It was published first in 1638 under the title The Conspiracy, and, rewritten, in 1653 as Pallantus and Eudora. Thomas Killigrew the younger also, a writer of plays, belongs to a later generation.

The works of Sir William D’Avenant, posthumously collected, bear date 1683. D’Avenant staged most of his plays and some of them were not undeservedly successful. Several of his rewritten plays, such as Love and Honour, The Wits and The Platonick Lovers, long remained popular favourites; but his work subsequent to the restoration is made up largely of older dramas refashioned to meet new conditions. Thus, we hear of Macbeth staged with “alterations, amendments, additions and new songs” besides a divertissement, and of Beatrice and Benedick thrust into Measure for Measure and the result renamed The Law Against Lovers. Romeo and Juliet was transformed into a comedy and acted alternately with the Shakespearean version.