John Ford's Strange Truth

in Critical Survey
Lisa Hopkins Professor and Head of Research Degrees, Sheffield Hallam University, UK

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From the 1620s to the 1630s, John Ford revisited Shakespeare and made him strange. ’Tis Pity She's a Whore inverts Romeo and Juliet by making its core relationship endogamous rather than exogamous. Perkin Warbeck is a sequel to Richard III, but undoes its original by telling a story fundamentally incompatible with Shakespeare's. The Lover's Melancholy echoes both Twelfth Night and King Lear, collapsing the distinction between comedy and tragedy. Above all, Ford reworks Othello, which lies behind the plots of four of his plays. The estranging effect produced by these reshapings is underlined by Perkin Warbeck's subtitle ‘A Strange Truth’ and the word ‘strange’ appears forty-nine times in his plays. Ford uses familiar Shakespearean stories to highlight the strangeness of the stories which he himself tells.

Contributor Notes

Lisa Hopkins is Professor of English and Head of Research Degrees at Sheffield Hallam University. She co-edits Shakespeare, Journal of Marlowe Studies, Arden Early Modern Drama Guides and Arden Studies in Early Modern Drama. She did her PhD on John Ford (Warwick, 1986) and has published several articles on him and a monograph, John Ford's Political Theatre (1992). She has edited three of his plays, The Lady's Trial for the Revels series and The Broken Heart and The Fancies Chaste and Noble for the Oxford Collected Ford. She is currently preparing an edition of his play The Queen for Revels. E-mail:; ORCID: 0000-0001-9512-0926

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