Jewish Questions in <i>The Three Ladies of London</i>




Jews, Three Ladies of London, Wilson, Elizabethan, antisemitism


In the history of portraying Jews on the early modern stage, critics frequently cite Robert Wilson’s The Three Ladies of London as an anomaly. The play’s first modern editor, H.S.D. Mithal, went so far as to describe Gerontus as ‘a character sui generis’, quite unlike Marlowe’s porridge-poisoning Machiavel, Shakespeare’s knife-whetting usurer, and the devilish doctor in Selimus. This essay explores the questions raised by Wilson’s portrayal of Gerontus, paying particular attention to their critical and theatrical implications. What was understood by the term ‘Jew’ and how might Elizabethan audiences have recognized Gerontus as a Jew? Is the play really an anomaly of early modern theatre history?

Author Biography

Brett D. Hirsch, University of Western Australia

Brett D. Hirsch ( is ARC Discovery Early Career research fellow and assistant professor of English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. He is coordinating editor of Digital Renaissance Editions and co-editor of the journal Shakespeare. In July 2016, he will take up the position of University Academic Fellow in Textual Studies and Digital Editing at the University of Leeds.