The Tragedy of Mariam

The Tragedy of Mariam

"The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry" is a Jacobean era closet drama written by Elizabeth Tanfield Cary, and first published in 1613. The play is the the first work by a woman that was published under her own name. The play received only marginal attention until the 1970's, when feminist scholars recognized the play's contribution to English literature. Since then the play has received a large amount of scholarly attention.

The play was written between 1602 and 1604, [Cerasano and Wynne-Davies, p. 47] was never staged in its own historical era, and apparently was never intended for stage performance by its author. It was entered into the Stationers' Register in December 1612. The 1613 quarto was printed by Thomas Creede for the bookseller Richard Hawkins. Cary's drama belongs to the sub-genre of the Senecan revenge tragedy. The primary sources for the play are "The Wars of the Jews" and "The Antiquities of the Jews" by Josephus, which Cary used in Thomas Lodge's 1602 translation.


"The Tragedy" tells the story of Mariam, a member of the Hasmonean dynasty and the second wife of Herod the Great, king of Palestine 39-4 B.C. When the play opens, in 29 B.C., Herod is thought dead at the hand of Octavian (later Caesar Augustus), and Mariam faces her ambivalent feelings about her husband; Herod had loved her, but had also murdered her grandfather and brother. In Act IV, however, Herod returns, dispelling the false report of his death. Though Mariam is the title character and the play's moral center, her part in the play amounts to only about 10% of the whole; [Elaine Beilin, in Pacheco, p. 137.] Cary uses a set of secondary characters to provide a multi-vocal portrayal of Herod's court and Jewish society under his tyranny. The ending of the play is consistent with the tyranny of both its fictional Herod and the actual historical figure: six characters die, including Mariam.

The play has been edited and published in several modern editions, and has acquired a large and growing body of critical and scholarly commentary.



* Cary, Elizabeth. " [ The tragedie of Mariam, the faire queene of Jewry.] " On-line edition at [ A Celebration of Women Writers]
* Cary, Elizabeth. "The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry." Stephanie Hodgson-Wright, ed. Guelph, ON, Broadview Press, 2000.
* Cary, Elizabeth. "The Tragedy of Mariam, the Fair Queen of Jewry." Barry Weller, Margaret W. Ferguson, eds. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1994.
* Cerasano, Susan P., and Marion Wynn-Davies, eds. "Renaissance Drama by Women: Texts and Documents." London, Routledge, 2003.
* Lewalski, Barbara. "Writing Women in Jacobean England." Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 1994.
* Pacheco, Anita, ed. "A Companion to Early Modern Women's Writing." London, Blackwell, 2002.

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mariam Appeal — The Mariam Appeal ( the Appeal ) was a political campaign in the United Kingdom (UK) established in 1998. The objects of the Appeal as stated in its constitution were: to provide medicines, medical equipment and medical assistance to the people… …   Wikipedia

  • Cultural depictions of Herod the Great — This page lists cultural depictions of Herod the Great, grouped by order and arranged by date. Contents 1 Literature 1.1 Plays 1.2 Print media 2 Performing arts …   Wikipedia

  • History of the Soviet Union (1982–1991) — The history of the Soviet Union from 1982 through 1991, spans the period from Leonid Brezhnev s death and funeral until the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Due to the years of Soviet military buildup at the expense of domestic development,… …   Wikipedia

  • Mengistu Haile Mariam — Chairman of the Derg and Head of State of Ethiopia In office 3 February 1977 – 10 September 1987 Preceded by Tafari Benti …   Wikipedia

  • Nur Kasih The Movie — Genre Romance Format Film Written by Mira Mustaffa …   Wikipedia

  • Dissolution of the Soviet Union — Tanks at Red Square during the 1991 Soviet coup d état attempt Participants People of the Soviet Union Federal government …   Wikipedia

  • Demography of the Soviet Union — Soviet Union This article is part of the series: Politics and government of the Soviet Union …   Wikipedia

  • 1613 in literature — The year 1613 in literature involved some significant events.Events*English poet Francis Quarles becomes cupbearer to Princess Elizabeth. *At the English royal court, January and February see massive celebrations for the marriage of Frederick V,… …   Wikipedia

  • Elizabeth Tanfield Cary — Infobox Writer name = Elizabeth Tanfield Cary Lady Falkland caption = Drawing by Athow from painting by Paul Van Somer (1620) birthdate = 1585 birthplace = Burford Priory, Oxfordshire, England, UK deathdate = death year and age|1639|1585… …   Wikipedia

  • CARY, Elizabeth Lady Falkland — (c. 1585 1639) Among the most remarkable learned women in early modern England, Eliz­abeth Cary is best known for writing The Tragedy of Mariam, the first female authored play published in English (1613), and for her strong religious convic­tions …   Renaissance and Reformation 1500-1620: A Biographical Dictionary