Northward Ho – Introduction

Northward Ho is Dekker’s last of three collaborations with John Webster.  The play was most likely a response to the popular Eastward Ho by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, and John Marston, which was in turn a response to Dekker and Webster’s second collaberation, Westward Ho of the previous year.  All three plays are fine examples of satiricle drama, and indeed Eastward Ho was so satiricle that two of its writers spent a short time in prison for offending King James.

The 1607 quarto

Northward Ho was first performed no later than the latter half of 1605.  It could not have been performed later than that, as all three of the above mentioned “directional” plays are referred to in John Day’s play, The Isle of Gulls.  Northward Ho was published in quarto in 1607 by the printer George Eld.

The play is a “city comedy,” as was Westward Ho before it.  Most commentators consider it to be superior to the earlier play, but are in disagreement as to how much share each of the two playwrights have in it.  It is generally agreed upon that Dekker had the larger share of the work, with Webster having written much of Act One, and Act Three, Scene One.

One of the main characters, Bellamont, is a playwright, a concept which immediatly begs the question of whether or not he is a satire of a contemporary writer.  The general consensus is yes, and the playwright is George Chapman.

Dramatis Personæ

Act One, Scene One

Act One, Scene Two

Act One, Scene Three

Act Two, Scene One

Act Two, Scene Two

Act Three, Scene One

Act Three, Scene Two

Act Four, Scene One

Act Four, Scene Two

Act Four, Scene Three

Act Five, Scene One

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