chapter  14
20 Pages

‘The Loathed Stage’

The 1626 performance of The Staple of News broke a ten-year absence of Ben Jonson from the theatre. The play is an interesting mixture of old techniques with new material. Specific topical allusions indicate that he was working on the piece until shortly before its presentation. A financial drain like this, as demonstrated from the amounts Jonson borrowed from actors and acquaintances, could hardly be staunched by the production of a play or two. Jonson's concern to co-operate with the Attorney General Sir Robert Heath is clear from his determination to volunteer all that he knew. When questioned as to the author he said that he had heard 'by common fame', that the author was Zouch Townley, 'a scholar and a divine' and 'student of Christchurch, Oxford'. Jonson's self-indulgence in venting his ire cost him the chance of any further work at court. He was never again asked to prepare a masque for the royal family.