The Duchess of Malfi (1972)

The Duchess of Malfi, a play by John Webster, makes up much of the backdrop to Robert Galbraith’s The Silkworm and its literary antecedents, namely, Agatha Christie’s Sleeping Murder and P. D. James’ The Skull Beneath the Skin (see my discussion of this influence here). You had a wonderful education indeed if you read this play or saw it performed as a young person in the United States, where, in my experience at least, ‘Early Modern Drama’ means ten generous helpings of Shakespeare at least to any condiment-sized presentations or discussion of Jonson, Kyd, or Webster.

I was delighted to find, consequently, a British production pf Duchess of Malfi in period costume available free online. I reproduce its first four parts below and provide a link to the rest of the show at the end for your easy access. Free online texts if you choose to read before viewing or while watching can be found at Gutenberg.com as plain text, at LarryAvisBrown.com with notes, and at FullBooks.com as poetry per the Arden edition.

For the remaining nine parts of this production, see the full collection on YouTube. Enjoy — and let me know what you think in the comment boxes below!

Comments

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Interestingly, one of the last of Charles Williams’s published works was an introductory essay to the 1945 Sylvan Press edition, which was illustrated throughout the text with black-and-white line drawings by Michael Ayrton (with an essay by George Rylands as well).

  2. At the risk of stating the obvious, but Malfi sounds a lot like Malfoy.

  3. There is a study researching the links between The Duchess of Malfi and Harry Potter:
    https://shura.shu.ac.uk/29539/3/Hopkins-29539.pdf

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