A Warning for Fair Women is a 1599 true-crime drama from the repertory of Shakespeare’s acting company. While important to literary scholars and theater historians, it is also readable, relevant, and stage-worthy today. Dramatizing the murder of London merchant George Saunders by his wife’s lover, and the trials and executions of the murderer and accomplices, it also sheds light on neighborhood and domestic life and crime and punishment.
This edition of A Warning for Fair Women is fully updated, featuring a lively and extensive introduction and covering topics from authorship and staging to the 2018 world revival of the play in the United States. It includes a section with discussion and research questions along with resources on topics raised by the play, from beauty and women’s friendship to the occult. Ann C. Christensen presents a freshly edited text for today’s readers, with in-depth explanatory notes, scene summaries, a gallery of period images, and full scholarly apparatus.
List of Illustrations Preface A Note about the Text and Previous Editions Acknowledgments Introduction Cast of Characters A Warning for Fair Women Appendix
Arthur Golding’s A briefe discourse of the late Murther of master George Sanders John Stow’s The Annales of England Faithfully Collected Ballad, “The wofull lamentacon [sic] of Mrs. Anne Saunders” Excerpts of Dorothy Leigh’s The Mother’s Blessing
Notes Bibliography Index
Ann C. Christensen is a professor of English at the University of Houston. She is the author of Separation Scenes: Domestic Drama in Early Modern England (Nebraska, 2017).
"Editions like A Warning for Women are few and far between: fun, relevant, contextually nuanced, and accessible."—Francesca Bua, Comitatus
“Students and scholars alike will find Ann Christensen’s erudite and entertaining new edition of A Warning for Fair Women to be invaluable in the study of Elizabethan literature and culture. The work is an important addition to the growing body of non-Shakespearean drama available in an accessible form for the twenty-first-century classroom.”—Amy L. Tigner, coauthor of Culinary Shakespeare: Staging Food and Drink in Early Modern England
“This edition elegantly situates the play in relation to stage, page, and scaffold, and showcases how the anonymous playwright is in conversation with genres as diverse as scaffold speeches and mothers’ manuals. It also demonstrates how this early modern murder resonates with popular culture today.”—Emma Whipday, author of Shakespeare’s Domestic Tragedies: Violence in the Early Modern Home
“A Warning for Fair Women has everything fans of true-crime dramas expect—adulterous sex, family conflict, disputes about money, grisly murder, scheming accomplices, long-winded courtroom speeches, gallows confessions, and lots of blood. Ann Christensen’s spirited edition of this largely unknown Elizabethan play, first performed by Shakespeare’s company, is perfect for class read-arounds or more fully staged performances, with a contextualizing literary and historical framework spot-on for today’s students.”—Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, author of Women and Gender in Early Modern Europe
“This finely executed edition offers a timely rationale for returning A Warning for Fair Women to scholarly conversation. With ties to Shakespeare’s company the play has obvious relevance for repertory studies, but well beyond this it explores social issues of the period related to domestic crime, women and the law, politics and economics, moral instruction and the church, even the occult and the supernatural. It is a play that well repays our attention.”—S. P. Cerasano, Edgar W. B. Fairchild Professor of Literature at Colgate University