Massinger, Philip (măsˈənjər) [key], 1583–1640, English dramatist, b. Salisbury. He studied at Oxford (1602–6) but left without a degree, apparently to go to London to write plays. A prolific writer, Massinger wrote more than 40 plays (often in collaboration). He is best known for the comedies A New Way to Pay Old Debts (1625) and The City Madam (1632), in which the gluttony of the two central characters leads to tragic consequences. His other extant works, most of which were produced between 1620 and 1630, include the romantic dramas The Duke of Milan and The Great Duke of Florence and the tragicomedies The Fatal Dowry (with Nathaniel Field), The Virgin Martyr (with Thomas Dekker), and The Bondman. A sober, meticulous writer, Massinger was a harsh moralist and frequently employed humor characters to illustrate the evils of a frivolous and avaricious society.
See studies by A. H. Cruickshank (1920, repr. 1971), T. A. Dunn (1957), D. Howard (1985), and D. Adler (1987).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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