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Every June, members of The Shakespeare Institute read aloud, in chronological order, the complete dramatic canon of a sixteenth- or early seventeenth-century playwright. The exercise enables us to observe, in concentrated form, the development of a single dramatist’s imagination and technique, and to experience a large number of neglected plays by a significant talent of the Shakespearian era. 

In previous years we have read the plays of John Fletcher, Thomas Heywood, and James Shirley.  This year we turn to Thomas Dekker.

Dekker’s plays are noted for their engagement with the experience of ordinary people as well as for their masterly treatment of a wide range of genres.  Writing both alone and in collaboration with other dramatists, he worked for most of the major commercial theatre companies of the time, and also undertook civic commissions such as the annual pageant for the inauguration of the Lord Mayor of London.  In 2014, the Royal Shakespeare Company mounted an acclaimed revival of one of his earliest plays, The Shoemaker’s Holiday, directed by Phillip Breen.  The Marathon will give us the opportunity to explore his work more extensively.  We shall also read a number of plays which have been attributed to Dekker with varying degrees of confidence; the experience of reading them in the context of the confirmed Dekker canon may provide insight as to whether the attributions are reliable.

The Marathon will take place in the Reading Room at The Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon.  All are welcome to attend for some or all of the readings, but if you are not already known to the Institute, please make arrangements in advance by contacting the organizer, Dr Martin Wiggins ( 

The schedule is as follows:

 Monday 13 June

  • 10:30 A Warning for Fair Women
  • 14:30 The Shoemakers’ Holiday

Tuesday 14 June

  • 14:30 Old Fortunatus
  • 19:30 Patient Grissil

Wednesday 15 June

  • 10:30 The Spanish Moor’s Tragedy
  • 14:30 Sir Thomas More

Thursday 16 June

  • 14:30 The Untrussing of the Humorous Poet
  • 19:00 Blurt, Master Constable

Friday 17 June

  • 10:30 Sir Thomas Wyatt
  • 14:30 The Merry Devil of Edmonton

Monday 20 June

  • 10:30 Pageantry for the Royal Entry of KIng James I into London
  • 14:30 The Patient Man and the Honest Whore

Tuesday 21 June

  • 14:30 Westward Ho!
  • 19:00 2 The Honest Whore

Wednesday 22 June

  • 10.30 Northward Ho!
  • 14:30 The Whore of Babylon

Thursday 23 June

  • 14:30 The Bloody Banquet
  • 19:00 The Roaring Girl

Friday 24 June

  • 10:30 If It Be Not Good, the Devil is In It
  • 14:30 Troia Nova Triumphans

Monday 27 June

  • 10:30 The Virgin Martyr
  • 14:30 The Witch of Edmonton

Tuesday 28 June

  • 14:30 Match Me in London
  • 19:00 The Wonder of a Kingdom

Wednesday 29 June

  • 10:30 The Noble Spanish Soldier
  • 14:30 The Welsh Ambassador

Thursday 30 June

  • 14:30 The Spanish Gypsy
  • 19:00 The Sun’s Darling

Friday 1 July

  • 10:30 The Telltale
  • 14:30 Britannia’s Honour and London’s Tempe