Life and Background
Thomas Middleton was born in London in 1580, the son of a ‘citizen and bricklayer’ who died when the dramatist was 5 years old. His mother, Anne, soon married again, but the marriage was not a happy one, and Thomas Middleton grew up in a turbulent atmosphere of family quarrels and lawsuits. His father had had property interests and died leaving Anne Middleton a well-to-do city widow, but she had to protect the family legacy from her grasping second husband. Perhaps because the many lawsuits had drained the family finances, Thomas, who went up to Queen’s College, Oxford, in 1598, did not complete his degree. His writing career began at this time with the publication of poems and pamphlets, but before long, in 1601, we hear of him in London where he is said to be ‘accompaninge the players’. It is not clear whether by this is meant that he had actually attached himself to a group of actors, but clearly an interest in, and connection with, the theatre is indicated. It is not surprising, therefore, that within a year or two the records indicate that he was writing for the stage and that his career as a dramatist had begun.
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