The Dutch Courtesan and 'The Soul of Lively Action'


  • Michael Cordner University of York



John Marston; Dutch Courtesan


The Dutch Courtesan has traditionally been the subject of critical interpretations which offer simplified accounts of both its overall design and its scene-by-scene complexities. This article charts some of the recurrent problems that have, in particular, affected scholarly accounts of the Freevill/Malheureux/Franceschina plot, which became apparent as the author worked on the play in production. The aim is to map more clearly some of the key givens of the script, but not to dictate performance outcomes, since the play is sufficiently rich to invite and to accommodate contrasting realizations on stage.

Author Biography

Michael Cordner, University of York

Michael Cordner ( is Ken Dixon Professor of Drama in the department of Theatre, Film, Television, and InterActive Media at the University of York. He is the founding general editor of the Oxford University Press Oxford English Drama series and has himself published editions of seventeen seventeenth- and eighteenth century plays. He publishes widely on this repertoire as well as on the training of modern actors to perform in it. He regularly directs practice-as-research productions of early modern plays with student companies. Films of five of his recent productions – from Middleton to Vanbrugh – can be viewed at






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