This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Ralph Roister Doister by Nicholas Udall

Ralph Roister Doister

by Nicholas Udall, Thomas Norton, Thomas (Earl of Dorset) Sackville, Nicholas Udall

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
251428,870 (2.75)2



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

[Ralph Roister Doister] By Nicholas Udall
A play from Tudor England probably published around 1553 and claimed to be the first English comedy. It would have originally been designed as an interlude and would have been performed at a banquet or other entertainment on a floor space cleared for the purpose. there is plenty of conjecture that it might have been played in front of Queen Mary I, as the final page of the play is nothing less than a homage to the queen.

The plot is a simple one, but would stretch the credibility of audiences today. Mathew Merrygreek is the first person to take the floor and he stresses that laughter is a cure for all the evils of the world and he encourages the audience find the play funny. He describes himself as a manipulator of others, living by his wits and he boasts that he can persuade Ralph Roister Doister to do anything he wants. The Roister Doister character would have been easily recognisable to Tudor audiences, a boastful fool, but a man of some means who can tell stories of exploits in war. He confides to his friend Merrygreek that he has once again fallen in love and Merrygreek seizes on the opportunity to have some fun. Doister is in love with Dame Christian Constance a wealthy widow who is known to be looking for a new husband, but she is already betrothed to Gavin Goodluck a London Merchant. Merrygreek encourages Doister that he should press his suite most forcibly as he is bound to win over Constance. There is much comedy as the super confident Doister arranges with Constances servants: Madge Mumblecrust and Tibet Talkapace to help him win their lady. Constance will have nothing to do with Doister and tells him so as plainly as she can:

“I will not be served with a fool in no wise. When I choose a husband, I hope to take a man.”

Doister egged on by Merrygreek tries to force entry into the house of Constance, but he is beaten back, by her servants and with sly whacks from his friend. However Gavin Goodluck hears about the disturbance and is concerned about Constance’s reputation, she has to prove to him that none of it was her doing.

Most of the comedy is centred around the foolish braggart Doister and some choice repartee with the servants of Constance. The disturbance outside her house with Doister and his servants getting pummelled from all sides would also provide some amusement. Merrygreek's part in all this has to be swallowed by the audience to make it all feasible.

Udall’s dialogue is witty enough with some word play. There is very little sexual innuendo and it all ends with much good humour. What is significant I think is the role of the women in the play. They are all strong characters even the old nurse Mumblecrust is more than a match for Doister. Udall was at one time headmaster of Eton college and in all probability his play would have been performed by the all male students. There is very little religious content and the play seems to be an amalgam of the Roman playwright Terence with some medieval and Renaissance settings, but it is firmly fixed in the milieu of the mid 16th century and points the way for late 16th century drama.
An interesting reading experience for anybody interested in early English drama and for me a 3.5 star read. ( )
3 vote baswood | Oct 17, 2016 |
no reviews | add a review

» Add other authors (9 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Nicholas Udallprimary authorall editionscalculated
Norton, Thomasmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Sackville, Thomas (Earl of Dorset)main authorall editionsconfirmed
Udall, Nicholasmain authorall editionsconfirmed
Cooper, William DurrantEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Cooper, William DurrantEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Greg, W. W.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

No library descriptions found.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (2.75)
2 1
3.5 1

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 127,222,748 books! | Top bar: Always visible