Thomas D'Urfey : the life and work of a restoration playwright.
This thesis is a study of the life and works of Thomas D'Urfey (1653-
1721), a prolific writer of
poetry and operas during the Restoration
period. It places him in the context of the theatre of his time and the
difficult conditions in which he worked, showing how obscurity of birth and
lack of education affected him in his burning desire for success and
financial reward. His relationships with great men illustrate the role of
the patron in Augustan society, and his long career in the theatre illuminates
the principal developments in English drama between 1676 and 1710.
The Introduction provides a brief critical survey of the current state
of Restoration comedy criticism and of D'Urfey's place in that criticism.
Chapters One and Three are primarily biographical; Chapters Two, Four and
Five study his plays; Chapter Six takes a broader view of his non-dramatic
writing, and Chapter Seven examines his last three comedies and discusses
them as precursors of the novel. The final section of Chapter Seven makes
some comparisons between Thomas D'Urfey and other dramatists of the period,
especially John Dryden, and argues that there is a special interest in the
struggle for recognition of an author generally regarded as a failure. The
Conclusion summarises the arguments in the thesis for this re-assessment of
D'Urfey's interest and importance. Throughout the thesis D'Urfey's work is
shown to have many rewards for the modern reader.