Thomas Hughes (dramatist)

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Thomas Hughes (fl. 1571 – 1623) was an English lawyer and dramatist.[1]

A native of Cheshire, Hughes entered Queens' College, Cambridge, in 1571. He graduated and became a fellow of his college in 1576, and was afterwards a member of Gray's Inn.


Hughes wrote The Misfortunes of Arthur, Uther Pendragon's son reduced into tragical notes, which was performed at Greenwich in Queen Elizabeth I's presence on the 28 February 1588. Nicholas Trotte provided the introduction, Francis Flower the choruses of Acts I. and II., William Fulbecke two speeches, while three other gentlemen of Gray's Inn, one of whom was Francis Bacon, undertook the care of the dumb show.

The argument of the play, based on a story of incest and crime, was borrowed, in accordance with Senecan tradition, from mythical history, and the treatment is in close accordance with the model. The ghost of Gorlois, who was slain by Uther Pendragon, opens the play with a speech that reproduces passages spoken by the ghost of Tantalus in Seneca's play Thyestes; the tragic events are announced by a messenger, and the chorus comments on the course of the action. Dr W. J. Cunliffe has proved that Hughes's memory was saturated with Seneca, and that the play may be resolved into a patchwork of translations, with occasional original lines. Appendix II. to his exhaustive essay On the Influence of Seneca on Elizabethan Tragedy (1893) gives a long list of parallel passages.

The Misfortunes of Arthur was reprinted in J. P. Collier's supplement to Dodsley's Old Plays; and by Harvey Carson Grumline (Berlin, 1900), who points out that Hughes's source was Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Britonum, not the Morte D'Arthur.



  1. Finkelpearl, P. J. "Hughes, Sir Thomas". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/14090.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Public Domain This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainChisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. Missing or empty |title= (help)CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>