Theatre Ph.D. Dissertations


Earning a Living as an Author in Early Modern England: The Case of Anthony Munday

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Theatre and Film

First Advisor

James Forse


Anthony Munday (1560-1633) was one of Tudor/Stuart England’s most prolific writers. Over the course of a literary career that lasted for more than fifty years, Munday penned over eighty works, many published more than once. Scholars have over the years constructed a framework that describes Munday variously as author, playwright, "our best plotter," pamphleteer, uninspired literary hack, translator, historian, and spy. Beyond these labels, Munday has received little attention from the academic community. A re-examination of his life and place reveals that Munday serves as a case study of an early modern author who also exemplifies the rising middling classes of early modern England. That perspective is grounded on two things. First, and most obvious, is a return to the primary sources, what they say and do not say. Conclusions about Munday’s career must reflect the sources themselves, rather than speculation spun out from those sources. Further, Munday’s stages in life and career need to be examined in totality, rather than concentrating on specific jobs, genres, or works. Munday’s life lends itself to such an examination because the clear-cut chronological delineations that are evident in his life and are united by the constant thread of writing for commercial gain. It is in that totality that a true picture of the professional writer as a member of the upwardly mobile, middling classes can be seen.