Hey, this is Heather from the Renaissance English History Podcast, and this is your Tudor Minute for August 15.
Today in 1594 Thomas Kyd was buried. He was an early Elizabethan playwright, and it’s postulated that he actually wrote a version of Hamlet before Shakespeare, which is now known as the Ur-Hamlet.
In the 1580’s he became an important playwright, but not much is known about him. Francis Meres placed him among “our best for tragedy” and Ben Jonson mentions him in the same breath as Christopher Marlowe (with whom, in London, Kyd at one time shared a room).
The Spanish Tragedie was probably written in the mid to late 1580s. The earliest surviving edition was printed in 1592; the full title being, The Spanish Tragedie, Containing the lamentable end of Don Horatio, and Bel-imperia: with the pittifull death of olde Hieronimo. It was arguably the most popular play of the “Age of Shakespeare”. Some poems by Kyd exist, but it seems that most of his work is lost or unidentified.
The success of Kyd’s plays extended to Europe. Versions of The Spanish Tragedy and his Hamlet were popular in Germany and the Netherlands for generations. The influence of these plays on European drama was largely the reason for the interest in Kyd among German scholars in the nineteenth century.
That’s your Tudor Minute for today. Remember you can dive deeper into life in 16th century England through the Renaissance English History Podcast at englandcast.com where there are episodes on the Elizabethan theater.