Kyd, Thomas

Kyd, Thomas
born Nov. 6, 1558, London, Eng.
died с December 1594, London

English dramatist.

With The Spanish Tragedie (1592), he initiated the revenge tragedy, a favourite dramatic form in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras in which the main motivation was revenge. One of the most popular plays of its time, it prepared the way for William Shakespeare's Hamlet and other plays. The only other play certainly by Kyd is Cornelia (1594). He was arrested and tortured in 1593 after "atheistical" documents were found in his room; he claimed the papers belonged to Christopher Marlowe, with whom he had shared lodgings. His reputation ruined, he died the next year at age 36.

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▪ English dramatist
baptized Nov. 6, 1558, London, Eng.
died c. December 1594, London

      English dramatist who, with his The Spanish Tragedie (sometimes called Hieronimo, or Jeronimo, after its protagonist), initiated the revenge tragedy of his day. Kyd anticipated the structure of many later plays, including the development of middle and final climaxes. In addition, he revealed an instinctive sense of tragic situation, while his characterization of Hieronimo in The Spanish Tragedie prepared the way for Shakespeare's (Shakespeare, William) psychological study of Hamlet.

      The son of a scrivener, Kyd was educated at the Merchant Taylors School in London. There is no evidence that he attended the university before turning to literature. He seems to have been in service for some years with a lord (possibly Ferdinando, Lord Strange, the patron of Lord Strange's Men). The Spanish Tragedie was entered in the Stationers' Register in October 1592, and the undated first quarto edition almost certainly appeared in that year. It is not known which company first played it, nor when; but Strange's company played Hieronimo 16 times in 1592, and the Admiral's Men revived it in 1597, as apparently did the Chamberlain's Men (Lord Chamberlain's Men). It remained one of the most popular plays of the age and was often reprinted.

      The only other play certainly by Kyd is Cornelia (1594), an essay in Senecan tragedy, translated from the French of Robert Garnier's academic Cornélie. He may also have written an earlier version of Hamlet, known to scholars as the Ur-Hamlet, and his hand has sometimes been detected in the anonymous Arden of Feversham, one of the first domestic tragedies, and in a number of other plays.

      About 1591 Kyd was sharing lodgings with Christopher Marlowe (Marlowe, Christopher), and on May 13, 1593, he was arrested and then tortured, being suspected of treasonable activity. His room had been searched and certain “atheistical” disputations denying the deity of Jesus Christ found there. He probably averred then and certainly confirmed later, in a letter, that these papers had belonged to Marlowe. That letter is the source for almost everything that is known about Kyd's life. He was dead by Dec. 30, 1594, when his mother made a formal repudiation of her son's debt-ridden estate.

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Kyd,Thomas — Kyd or Kid (kĭd), Thomas. 1558 1594. English dramatist who wrote The Spanish Tragedy (c. 1584), is thought to have contributed to Shakespeare s Titus Andronicus and Henry VI, and may have written a version of Hamlet. * * * …   Universalium

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  • KYD (T.) — KYD THOMAS (1558 1594) Baptisé à Londres le 6 novembre 1558, le mois et l’année de l’accession au trône de la reine Élisabeth, Thomas Kyd eut pour père un membre de la Compagnie des scribes (scriveners ) écrivains publics, si l’on veut, ou… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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