‘La bella Franceschina’ and Other Foreign Names in Marston’s The Dutch Courtesan


  • Tom Bishop University of Auckland




John Marston; Dutch Courtesan


John Marston’s play, The Dutch Courtesan, presents characters with remarkably polyglot names for action set in England. My essay examines this naming practice, attending in particular to the Italian name and background of the 'Dutch' courtesan, Franceschina, familiar to theatre-goers as a traditional character in commedia dell’arte troupes and scenarios. Overall, the essay argues that Marston’s deployment of foreign and polyglot names plays out and extends the ambivalences criticism has identified in the play, and in the genre of city comedy, towards hybridizations springing up in England in response to contemporary mercantile and cross-cultural relations.

Author Biography

Tom Bishop, University of Auckland

Tom Bishop (t.bishop@auckland.ac.nz) is professor in English at the University of Auckland. He is the author of Shakespeare and the Theatre of Wonder (Cambridge, 1996), the translator of Ovid’s Amores (Carcanet, 2003), editor of Pericles, Prince of Tyre (Internet Shakespeare Editions), and continuing general editor of The Shakespearean International Yearbook (Routledge). He has published work on Elizabethan music, Shakespeare, Jonson, court masques, early modern religion, and other topics. He is currently editing As You Like It for Arden Shakespeare (fourth series) and working on a book on Shakespeare’s Theatre Games.






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