Reformation, The

Abraham Wright (c. 1631)

Historical Records

Wood's Athenæ Oxoniensis

In his life of Abraham Wright (1611–90), an Anglican divine and poet, Anthony Wood writes:

He hath also compleated other books, which are not yet printed as (1) A comical entertainment called The Reformation, presented before the University at S. Johns Coll. Written while he was an Undergraduate.
(Wood, vol. 2., cols. 640-42)

Wright matriculated on 13 November 1629 and graduated BA on 16 May 1633 (Wright).

Theatrical Provenance

Performed at St John's College, Oxford, presumably between 1629 and 1633 (REED: Oxford, 833).

Probable Genre(s)


Possible Narrative and Dramatic Sources or Analogues

(Information welcome.)

References to the Play

None known.

Critical Commentary

Warton, in a brief account of Wright's life, dated the performance of "The Reformation" to "about 1631" (603)

Thorn-Drury speculates that Wright's play "perhaps perished in January 1679, among the books and manuscripts of his son James, in the disastrous fire in the Temple which beer was unable to extinguish" (v; cf. McManaway 282).

Bentley notes that Wood's description "seems to indicate that the manuscript was known to him," and also observes that Warton "offered no authority" for dating of performance to c. 1631 "and may have been guessing" (5:1276).

For What It's Worth

Wright also performed in George Wild's Love's Hospital when Charles I visited St. John's on 30 August 1636. He was an active reader of dramatic literature, and recorded his thoughts in a manuscript commonplace book (British Library, Add. MS 22608; Kirsch).

Works Cited

Kirsch, Arthur C. "A Caroline Commentary on the Drama." Modern Philology 66 (1969): 256–61.
McManaway, James G. Studies in Shakespeare, Bibliography, and Theater. New York: Shakespeare Association of America, 1969. [Originally from an essay printed in Studies in Honor of DeWitt T. Starnes (1967).]
Thorn-Drury, G., ed. Parnassus Biceps, or, Several Choice Pieces of Poetry, 1656. London: Frederick Etchells & Hugh Macdonald, 1927.
Warton, Thomas, ed. Poems upon Several Occasions by John Milton. London, 1785.
Wood, Anthony. Athenæ Oxoniensis. 2 vols. London, 1691–92.
Wright, Stephen. "Wright, Abraham (1611–1690)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford UP, 2004; online ed., 2008.

Site created and maintained by Misha Teramura, University of Toronto; updated 03 December 2015.