The Name of Grim: Tracing the Character of Grim the Collier in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Theatre

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.12745/et.24.2.4534

Keywords:

comedy, ecocriticism, race, coal, subplots, edwards, brewer, anoymous plays, devils

Abstract

Grim the Collier is a curious comic character who receives little critical attention. Grim appears in three key plays, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century pamphlets, herbals, and ballad culture. This article examines, and rejects, Grim as a potentially useful figure for environmental awareness. I dispel legends about the basis of this character, and examine how the labile significance of the name ‘Grim’ implicates it in networks of superficial similarity between devils, colliers, and racialized black skin. These networks link to the proverb that underlies most early modern depictions of Grim: ‘like will to like quoth the devil to the collier’.

Author Biography

Laura Seymour, Oxford

Laura Seymour (laura.seymour@st-annes.ox.ac.uk) is a stipendiary lecturer in English at St Anne’s College, University of Oxford.

Published

2021-12-17

Issue

Section

Articles