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Dr Charles Cathcart

Profile summary

Professional biography

I grew to love Renaissance plays as a private reader and as a visitor to London’s fringe performances of old plays during the 1980s and 1990s. I owe a special debt to the editors of modern scholarly dramatic texts because I first encountered many of the plays I most enjoy through their work. Although I later had the chance to study at doctoral level and have since engaged in scholarly debate, mostly as an independent scholar, I look back with affection to those early encounters with Renaissance drama.

I am intrigued by the ways in which writers interact with others. I like to explore the ways in which poets and playwrights respond to the words of fellow authors. And I am fascinated by the ways in which institutional connections – with playing companies and publishers, for example – affect the work of writers.

Much of this has had a focus in John Marston’s plays and poems. Marston was the subject of my doctoral studies and also of my book, Marston, Rivalry, Rapprochement, and Jonson (2008). Because ‘The War of the Theatres’ was a topic at one time notorious for over-development by excitable literary scholars, this book reflects upon the decorum of academic debate as well as upon the plays and playwrights involved.

I am very interested in questions of authorial agency, in literary borrowings and allusions, and in the playing companies that flourished in the early Jacobean years. I have enjoyed exploring the popular writings published by Leonard Becket from around 1610 to the early 1630s. Becket’s miscellanies and other publications are packed with unattributed snippets of verse from published poets. They are a kind of adventure playground for the scholar. No less fascinating are the little-known writings of Thomas Heywood in the final decade of his life.

Charles may be reached at


2021  'A Source for the Satirised Vocabulary in Poetaster', Notes and Queries, 266: 136-38 
2021  ‘John Day and Edward Sharpham at the Black and White Friars’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 34: 19-40
2019  'Du Bartas' Semaines and John Marston's The Malcontent', Notes and Queries, 264: 515–19
2019  ‘Alexander Grosart, “the first true gentleman that ever breathed”, and the Independent Scholar’, English, 68: 264-82
2019  ‘Heavens Tones’ and ‘Tones of Heaven’ in Antonio’s Revenge and What You Will’, Notes and Queries, 264: 469-73
2019  ‘The Insatiate Countess, William Barksted’s Hiren, The Fair Greek, and the Children of the King’s Revels’, Early Theatre, 22.1: 119-39
2018  ‘Leonard Becket, Stationer, and A help to discourse’, The Library, 19.3: 301-24
2018  ‘Thomas Brewer and his Associates: Hayman, Taylor, Heywood’, Notes and Queries, 263: 198-201
2017  ‘“Swell, swell, my joys”: Ben Jonson, Quotation, and A Help to Memory and Discourse’, Ben Jonson Journal, 24.2: 187-204
2017  ‘Robert Daborne’s Irish Critic’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 30: 36-51
2016  ‘The Curtain-Drawer of the World: Hamlet, Lear, Parkes, and Becket’, Notes and Queries, 261:543-47
2016  ‘Edward Greene, Goldsmith; William Marston, Apprentice; and Eastward Ho!Early Theatre, 19.2: 81-99
2016  ‘“A Memento for Mortality”, the Publications of Leonard Becket, and the Afterlife of Hamlet’, Review of English Studies, 67: 275-93
2013  ‘“The Masque being Endid” and The Works of Mr John Marston’, Notes and Queries, 258: 538-42.
2013  ‘“Passionate man in his slight play”: John Marston’s prologues and epilogues’, The Dutch Courtesan website: <URL:>
2012  ‘Sir Giles Goosecap, Knight: George Chapman; Poetaster; and the Children of the Chapel’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 25: 42-61
2011 ‘Guilpin and the Godly Satyre’, Review of English Studies, 62: 64-79
2010  ‘John Davies of Hereford, Marston, and Hall’, Ben Jonson Journal, 17.2: 242-48
2010  ‘Romeo at the Rose in 1598’, Early Theatre, 13.2: 149-62
2009  ‘How a Man May Choose a Good Wife from a Bad and The Taming of the Shrew’, Notes and Queries, 254: 612–15
2009  ‘Lampatho’s “Delicious Sweet” in Marston’s What You Will’, Notes and Queries, 254: 610–12
2009  ‘Old Plays and the General Reader: An Essay in Praise of the Regents Renaissance Drama Series’, Early Modern Literary Studies, 14.3: <URL:>
2008  Marston, Rivalry, Rapprochement, and Jonson (Aldershot: Ashgate)
2007  ‘Guilpin, Shakespeare, and “a Scourge of Wire”, Notes and Queries 252: 307-10
2007  ‘Poetaster and the Prince of Love’, Ben Jonson Journal, 14.2: 206-17
2006  ‘John Marston, The Malcontent, and the King’s Men’, Review of English Studies, 57: 43-63
2005  ‘Authorship, Indebtedness, and the Children of the King’s Revels’, Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, 45.2: 357-74
2003  ‘Borrowings and the Authorial Domain: Gostanzo, Polonius, and Marston’s Gonzago’, Comparative Drama, 37:2: 159-74
2003  ‘Club Law, The Family of Love, and the Familist Sect’, Notes and Queries, 248: 65-68
2003  ‘Histriomastix, Hamlet, and the “quintessence of Duckes”, Notes and Queries, 248: 327-30
2003  ‘The Insatiate Countess:  Date, Topicality, and Company Appropriation’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 16: 81-100
2003  ‘Lodge, Marston, and the Family of Love’, Notes and Queries, 248: 68-70
2002  ‘John Fletcher in 1600-1601: Two Early Poems, an Involvement in the “Poets’ War,” and a Network of Literary Connections’, Philological Quarterly, 81:1: 33-51
2002  ‘John Weever and the Jonson–Marston Rivalry’, Ben Jonson Journal, 9: 235-47
2001  ‘Hamlet: Date and Early Afterlife’, Review of English Studies, 52: 341-59
2001  ‘Lust’s Dominion; or, The Lascivious Queen: Authorship, Date, and Revision’, Review of English Studies, 52: 360-75
2000  ‘Ben Jonson and the Dedication of Antonio and Mellida’, Notes and Queries, 245: 100-103
2000  ‘Plural Authorship, Attribution, and the Children of the King’s Revels’, Renaissance Forum, 4:2: <URL:>
2000  ‘Twelfth Night and John Weever’, Notes and Queries, 245: 79-81
1999  ‘“You will crown him King that slew your King”: Lust’s Dominion and Oliver Cromwell’, Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England, 11: 264-74
1999  ‘Marston, Montaigne, and Lady Politic Would-be’, English Language Notes, 36:1: 4-8



A Source for the Satirised Vocabulary in Poetaster (2021-03)
Cathcart, Charles
Notes and Queries, 68(1) (pp. 136-138)

Heavens Tones’ and ‘Tones of Heaven’ in Antonio’s Revenge and What You Will (2019-09)
Cathcart, Charles
Notes and Queries, 66(3) (pp. 469-473)

Alexander Grosart, ‘The First True Gentleman That Ever Breathed’, and the Independent Scholar (2019)
Cathcart, Charles
English: Journal of the English Association, 68(262) (pp. 264-282)