In about 1590, an unknown dramatist had the idea of writing a tragedy about the lives of ordinary people, instead of the genre's usual complement of kings and queens and politicians. His play, Arden of Faversham, inaugurated a new genre of 'domestic' drama, set in near-contemporary England and concerned with issues of marriage, crime, and property rather than war and power. Arden dramatizes a notorious murder case of forty years earlier, in which a wealthy husband was killed
by his wife and her lover.
In Thomas Heywood's A Woman Killed with Kindness, a wife is caught by her husband in bed with his best friend, only to find that he takes unusual reprisals. The Witch of Edmonton combines a true-life story of witchcraft with a fictitious tale of bigamy and wife-murder, and The English Traveller deals with the unexpected and unwelcome changes people find when they return home after a lengthy absence.
Part of the Oxford English Drama series, this edition has modern-spelling texts; a critical introduction that outlines the way all four plays raise powerful and complex questions about the English society in which their tragic events unfold; wide-ranging notes; a chronology of the plays from their sources to recent performance; and appendices relating to two of the plays: who wrote Arden of Faversham and when did Heywood write The English Traveller. -