George Vertue (1684-1786) after Gerard van Honthorst (1590-1656), English playwright, poet, and actor Ben Jonson (1572-1637), 1730 

The most important fact about Ben Jonson (1572–1637) is that he was not Shakespeare. It may be objected that this comment is futile, since nobody can be blamed for not being Shakespeare. But a major reason for making the point is that Jonson was constantly making it himself. Not to be Shakespeare was an essential element in his self-definition, in life as in literature.

He was a Londoner whose métier, even in his two Roman tragedies, was satirical comedy, producing the “violent laughter”...


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