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 The tragedy of the unhappy fair Irene

(2,208 words)

Author(s): Moberly, David C.
Unhappy fair Irene- Gilbert Swinhoe Date: 1658 Original Language: English Description Unhappy fair Irene’s precise date of composition remains unknown. Three prefatory sonnets accompany it in its 1658 printing, describing its author, Gilbert Swinhoe, as markedly young for a playwright. Since Swinhoe’s birth date is unknown, however, this information is of little help. Some scholars speculate that the play must have been written prior to the closing of the theatres in 1642. Others, such as G.E. Bentley, point…

Lodowick Carlell

(875 words)

Author(s): Moberly, David C.
Biography Born in about 1602 in Brydekirk, Dumfriesshire, Scotland, to Herbert Carlell and Margaret Cunningham, Lodowick Carlell entered the courtier’s life in London as a young man during the reign of King James I, sometime between 1617 and 1621. While in London, he married Joan Palmer (who later became one of England’s first female, professional painters) on 11 November 1621. By 1629, he had been appointed groom of the Privy Chamber and had published his first play,  The deserving favourite, which was performed before the king and at Blackfriars. Lodowick’s father was ma…

 Osmond the great Turk

(2,457 words)

Author(s): Moberly, David C.
- Lodowick Carlell Date: Between 1622 and 1642 Original Language: English Description There is considerable debate surrounding the date of this play (whose full title is  The famous tragedy of Osmond the great Turk, otherwise called the noble servant). Allardyce Nicoll and E.E. Duncan Jones argue for a date between 1637 and 1642, based for the most part on the fact that the 1657 title page for the play states that it was acted ‘by the Queen’s Majesty’s Servants’, and that these were the years in which Carlell’s play production was a…


(2,649 words)

Author(s): Moberly, David C.
- William Okeley Date: 1675 Original Language: English Description William Okeley’s  Eben-ezer; or, A small monument of great mercy, appearing in the miraculous deliverance of William Okeley was published in 1675, 31 years after its writer’s escape from captivity and return to England in 1644. In his dedicatory letter, Okeley gives a number of reasons for this delay: first, England was in the middle of the Civil War when he arrived home; second, it took him time to digest his own experience; third, he at first did not wa…

William Okeley

(417 words)

Author(s): Moberly, David C.
Biography The only known source of biographical information about William Okeley is his sole published work  Eben-ezer; or, A small monument of great mercy, printed in London in 1675. The narrative describes Okeley’s capture at the hands of Turkish corsairs in the summer of 1639, his enslavement in Algiers, and his escape by boat to Majorca in 1644. Although he does not mention his age, details of his narrative suggest that he was an adult at the time of his capture, placing his likely birthdate before 1620, probably …

Gilbert Swinhoe

(500 words)

Author(s): Moberly, David C.
Biography Very little is known for certain about the life of Gilbert Swinhoe aside from what is said in the three prefatory sonnets that accompany his only known published work,  The unhappy fair Irene (1658). One sonnet, ‘To his dear Brother, the Author’, authored by a ‘Ja. Swinhoe’, suggests a family connection. Another, authored by Eldred Revett, refers to Gilbert as a ‘much honoured Kinsman’, and the last suggests his possible geographical origins in the lines ‘[…] give me leave to tell /  Northumberland can boast a Miracle / Of Wit and Worth.’ These clues have led schola…