Probably the most blighted period in the history of English drama was the time of the Civil Wars, Commonwealth, and Protectorate. With the theaters closed, the country at war, the throne in fatal decline, and the powers of Parliament and Cromwell growing greater, the received wisdom has been that drama in England largely withered and died. Not so, demonstrates Dale Randall in this magisterial study, the first book in nearly sixty years to attempt a comprehensive analysis of mid-seventeenth-century English drama.
Throughout the official hiatus in playing, he shows, dramas continued to be composed, translated, transmuted, published, bought, read, and even covertly acted. Furthermore, the tendency of drama to become interestingly topical and political grew more pronounced.
In illuminating one of the least understood periods in English literary history, Randall's study not only encompasses a large amount of dramatic and historical material but also takes into account much of the scholarship published in recent decades. Winter Fruit is a major interpretive work in literary and social history.
Dale B.J. Randall is a professor of English and professor of the practice of drama at Duke University and author of several books on early modern English literature.
How refreshing to find a reasonably comprehensive analysis of mid-seventeenth-century English drama presented as a well-orchestrated banquet.... It may very well be another sixty years before Winter Fruit is superseded as one of the basic reference items in the field.
An important resource for any further work in the field and possibly beyond it.
The fullest, most wide-ranging, and most authoritative survey of the field yet written.... All future work in the area will take this exhaustive and encyclopedic book as a point of departure and will be constantly indebted to the new landscape it so comprehensively draws.
Will surely be one of the first volumes to which future scholars will turn when seeking information on this period and its drama.
~Sixteenth Century Journal
Randall has done what few others can claim: he has actually read most of the extant dramatic pieces from a period in English history in which drama has often assumed to have been on hiatus. His book is handsomely produced, fully illustrated, well indexed, and very thoroughly researched.