William Rowley, The Birth of Merlin

Tyler Jean Dukes (Texas Christian University)
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The Birth of Merlin, or, The Childe Hath Found His Father

, has few equivalents in the catalog of Jacobean drama. Willliam Rowley and his mysterious collaborator(s) ambitiously pack multiple plots and even more generic peculiarities into the play. It is a journey into the absurd and anachronistic that can dizzy, if not divide, audiences. All five acts are “chaotic and surprising” (Kirwan). The play’s central theme — Things-Being-What-They-Are-Not — finds its most potent expression in the main characters Merlin and Joan, as well as the two sisters Constantia and Modestia.

Context & Reception

Context & Reception

The Birth of Merlin was first performed in 1622. Scholars generally accept that it was “not a popular production” because of its “absence” in documentation between

4591 words

Citation: Dukes, Tyler Jean. "The Birth of Merlin". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 19 February 2022 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=11986, accessed 22 June 2024.]

11986 The Birth of Merlin 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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