The Vow Breaker and William Sampson’s Role in ‘the Anne Willoughby Affair’

  • Emanuel Stelzer Bergamo University/Giessen University
Keywords: William Sampson, John Suckling, provincial playacting, regional cultural patronage


This article assesses William Sampson’s involvement in ‘the Anne Willoughby affair’, an episode that caused the vilification of Sir John Suckling and opposition to King Charles. I demonstrate that Sampson’s dedication of his play The Vow Breaker (published in 1636) to his patroness, Anne Willoughby, directly refers to the incident. The circumstances of composition and staging of this play can provide useful information on provincial playacting and on the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire cultural circles during the reign of Charles I.

Author Biography

Emanuel Stelzer, Bergamo University/Giessen University

Emanuel Stelzer ( is a PhD student in studi umanistici interculturali at Bergamo University in cotutelle with Justus Liebig University Giessen. He is a doctoral researcher within the PhDnet ‘Literary and Cultural Studies’ (Giessen) and a member of IASEMS (Italian Association of Shakespearean and Early Modern Studies), AIA (Associazione Italiana di Anglistica) and ESSE (European Society for the Study of English). His current project analyzes the uses and effects of staged portraits in early modern English drama.