Playwright William Rowley, 1585 – 1626, is best known for works written in collaboration with other writers. He seems to have made himself available as a jobbing writer who could be called on to help out with some less demanding scenes. It is easy to identify his work in a text, as his somewhat plodding verse stands in contrast to the often sparkling language of the main writer.

A solo play by William Rowley is rare and if his name had not been linked to some of the star dramatists of his time it is doubtful as to whether he would have been heard of in our time. There is not even a know portrait of him available to share with you. Nevertheless, his colleagues and contemporaries seem to have liked him and he was never without work.

Rowley’s name will live forever because of his collaboration with Thomas Middleton on The Changeling, which has remained one of the most fascinating, violent, intriguing, gripping and entertaining English plays of all time. Its main protagonist, De Flores, is one of English drama’s most memorable psychopaths. The play is still performed regularly and the roles of De Flores and Beatrice-Joanna are loved by actors. It is regarded by critics as one of the best Renaissance tragedies, even taking Shakespeare’s tragedies into account.

William Rowley lies in the graveyard of St James, Clerkenwell in North London.

Read more about Shakespeare’s other contemporaries >>

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