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The Duchess of Malfi

The Complete Text with Notes and Commentary

by Larry A. Brown, professor of theater, Nashville, Tennessee

These pages are dedicated to one of the greatest achievements of English Renaissance drama, John Webster’s The Duchess of Malfi. Here you will find the complete text of the play with links in each scene to notes and commentary.

Several editions of the play were consulted for notes including those edited by John Russell Brown, Jonathan Dollimore, David Gunby, Dennis Huston, F. L. Lucas, and Trevor Millum. The most recent edition consulted was by Leah Marcus (Arden, 2009). The production history by Kathleen McLuskie and Jennifer Uglow (Plays in Performance series, Bristol Classical Press, 1989) was also helpful.

Table of contents

A note on the text:

The first quarto (single printed copy) of The Duchess of Malfi published in 1623 does not carefully distinguish between lines of poetry and prose. Webster’s verse is very irregular and not always easy to recognize. This webtext does not attempt to make these fine distinctions; for a modern edition which does, see the Arden version edited by Leah Marcus (2009).

Photos are from a 1998 production at Lipscomb University in Nashville, TN directed by Dr. Larry Brown with Laura Brewer as the Duchess, Jason Miller as Bosola, Wes Driver as Ferdinand, Andrew Talbert as the Cardinal, Chris Hughes as Antonio, Rachel Holman as Julia, Duff Harris as Death.

“Webster was much possessed by death and saw the skull beneath the skin.” — T. S. Eliot

Originally published December 2000. Latest update September 2018.


Winner of the 2003 Swan Award given by Internet Shakespeare Editions

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