Attributing John Marston’s Marginal Plays

  • Darren Freebury-Jones School of English, Communication and Philosophy, Cardiff University, John Percival Building, Colum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU
  • Marina Tarlinskaja Department of Linguistics, University of Washington, Seattle, Box 354340 Seattle, WA 98195-4340
  • Marcus Dahl Institute of English Studies, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU
Keywords: Marston, Dekker, Lording Barry, authorship attribution studies, vocabulary, collocations, versification analysis


John Marston (c. 1576–1634) was a dramatist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, known for his satirical wit and literary feuds with Ben Jonson. His dramatic corpus consists of nine plays of uncontested authorship. This article investigates four additional plays of uncertain authorship which have been associated with Marston: Lust’s Dominion; Histriomastix; The Family of Love; and The Insatiate Countess. The internal evidence for Marston’s hand in these four texts is examined and an analysis made of the potential divisions of authorship. The essay provides a survey of Marston’s individual style by testing vocabulary; prosody; collocations of thought and language; and versification habits within both his acknowledged plays and the contested texts, in comparison to plays written by other authorship candidates.


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