Somebody and Nobody: the Authorial Identity of the Player-Playwright-Poet in the Early Modern Theatre

Anthony Archdeacon


This paper focusses on a particular moment at the beginning of the seventeenth century which has been considered to be transitional in terms of how the profession of playwright was perceived. It explores the complex authorial identities of playwrights who were also simultaneously poets and stage actors, roles which both in different ways created tensions with the role of playwright. Via an examination of the stage figure of Nobody which became popular at this time on the London stage, the paper suggests that filling the multiple roles of poet, playwright and player often led to a conflicted relationship with the idea of authorship. Metadramatic readings of the anonymous 1606 playbook Nobody and Somebody appear to support this suggestion, and to indicate that the figure of Nobody could be emblematic of the tensions and conflicts experienced by the player-playwright-poet at this time.


Anthony Archdeacon; early-modern theatre; seventeenth-century drama; playwright; John Trundle; Nobody and somebody; Jonson; Heywood; Marston; Dekker; King Elidurus; Elidure

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ISSN: 2034-4643
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