The 'Comedy of a Duke of Ferrara' in 1598

Matthew Steggle


The 'Comedy of a Duke of Ferrara' is a title of convenience for a lost play associated with the Englische Kömedianten in Germany in 1604. It appears to be linked to an extant German play, Tiberius und Annabella, and therefore to John Marston's The Fawn. This essay discusses a hitherto unnoted reference to the play in English print. The allusion acts as an anchor for all the other records and has implications, not just for the 'Comedy of a Duke of Ferrara', but also for Tiberius und Annabella, The Fawn, and — arguably — Shakespeare's Measure for Measure.


lost plays; Shakespeare; prose; translation; Englische Kömedianten

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Matthew Steggle
Sheffield Hallam University
United Kingdom

Matthew Steggle ( is professor of English at Sheffield Hallam University. Recent publications include Digital Humanities and the Lost Drama of Early Modern England (Farnham, 2015) and the edition of Measure for Measure in the Norton Shakespeare, third edition. He is co-editor, with Roslyn L. Knutson and David McInnis, of the Lost Plays Database ( and co-general editor, with Martin Butler, of The Complete Works of John Marston (Oxford, forthcoming 2020).