Field, Nathan

FIELD, NATHAN (1587-1633), English dramatist and actor, was baptized on the 17th of October 1587. His father, the rector of Cripplegate, was a Puritan divine, author of a Godly Exhortation directed against play-acting, and his brother Theophilus became bishop of Hereford. Nat. Field early became one of the children of Queen Elizabeth's chapel, and in that capacity he played leading parts in Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels (in 1600), in the Poetaster (in 1601), and in Epicoene (in 1608), and the title rôle in Chapman's Bussy d'Ambois (in 1606). Ben Jonson was his dramatic model, and may have helped his career. The two plays of which he was author were probably both written before 1611. They are boisterous, but well-constructed comedies of contemporary London life; the earlier one, A Woman is a Weathercock (printed 1612), dealing with the inconstancy of woman, while the second, Amends for Ladies (printed 1618), was written with the intention, as the title indicates, of retracting the charge. From Henslowe's papers it appears that Field collaborated with Robert Daborne and with Philip Massinger, one letter from all three authors being a joint appeal for money to free them from prison. In 1614 Field received £10 for playing before the king in Bartholomew Fair, a play in which Jonson records his reputation as an actor in the words "which is your Burbadge now?... Your best actor, your Field?" He joined the King's Players some time before 1619, and his name comes seventeenth on the list prefixed to the Shakespeare folio of 1623 of the "principal actors in all these plays." He retired from the stage before 1625, and died on the 20th of February 1633. Field was part author with Massinger in the Fatal Dowry (printed 1632), and he prefixed commendatory verses to Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess.

His two plays were reprinted in J.P. Collier's Five Old Plays (1833), in Hazlitt's edition of Dodsley's Old Plays, and in Nero and other Plays (Mermaid series, 1888), with an introduction by Mr A.W. Verity.

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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