Old Fortunatus

By Thomas Dekker

Edited by David McInnis

Old Fortunatus

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5605-1
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £21.00
  • Published Date: July 2021
  • BIC Category: Literature & literary studies / Plays, playscripts, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: c 1500 to c 1800, DRAMA / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, LITERARY CRITICISM / Drama, LITERARY CRITICISM / Modern / 16th Century, Literary studies: general, Literary studies: plays & playwrights, Plays, playscripts, Early Modern Literature
  • Series: The Revels Plays


With its fantasy of magical travel and inexhaustible riches, Thomas Dekker's Old Fortunatus is the quintessential early modern journeying play. The adventures of Fortunatus and his sons, aided by a magical purse and wishing-hat, offers the period's most overt celebration of the pleasures of travel, as well as a sustained critique of the dangers of intemperance and prodigality. Written following a period of financial difficulty for Dekker, the play is also notable for its fascination with the symbolic, mercantile and ethical uses of gold.

This Revels Plays edition is the first fully annotated, single-volume critical edition of Old Fortunatus. It offers scholarly discussion of the play's performance and textual history, including attention to the German version printed and performed in the early seventeenth century. It provides a long overdue critical reappraisal of this unjustly neglected play.


'McInnis has produced an admirable, rigorous, and reliable scholarly edition. He has given criticism a chance to match this editorial achievement with insights of comparable height and nuance.'
Renaissance and Reformation / Renaissance et Réforme

'This new edition of Old Fortunatus is a valuable intervention. It brings the play into focus for advanced teaching and research. It suggests some of the ways Dekker's dramaturgy embodies the possessive imagination that structures English travel writing and proto-colonial fantasy in the period.'
Early Theatre

'If Old Fortunatus has another moment, it might be now, when technologies of trade and travel elate and overwhelm us, and the world seems to flicker between far off and at hand. Like other Revels editions, this one offers an authoritatively edited, modernized, and annotated text, a comprehensive textual and historical introduction, and a short performance history. McInnis's introduction and notes are exceptional even by the high standards of the Revels series, adroitly recounting the wanderings of the Fortunatus story and the complicated history of Dekker's playtext. McInnis's particular expertise on travel narratives and lost plays shows to advantage, as he also sets Dekker's play into the performance context of other contemporary plays. McInnis's Old Fortunatus is an example of how a good edition does more than simply make a play newly available; it serves as waystation to a way of grasping a new world.'
SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900


List of illustrations
Authorship and the lost play(s)
The text
The German play
Performance history
Critical reception
Act and scene divisions
Old Fortunatus


David McInnis is the Gerry Higgins Senior Lecturer in Shakespeare Studies at the University of Melbourne, Australia

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