Thursday, 13 December 2012

Plays and Dramas

Becket came to be revered as one of the most important saints of the Middle Ages in the popular mind, hallowed and sanctified for the service he had rendered to the Church. He became a national and international hero. The manner in which he was remembered is largely due to the dramatic manner in which the contemporary chroniclers and martyrologists recorded his story. Those stories have eventually ended up in English and French literature as plays and dramas.

Some of those which have resulted are listed here.

Plays and Dramas about Becket

Jean Anouilh Becket ou L'Honneur de Dieu (1959)
Jean Anouilh (1 September 1972). Becket Ou l'Honneur de Dieu. Gallimard.
Jean Anouilh; Frederic Raphael; Stephen Raphael (28 October 2004). Becket. Methuen Drama. ISBN 978-0-413-77492-7.

TS Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral (1935)
Thomas Stearns Eliot (1980). Murder in the cathedral. Faber and Faber.

Vozzella, T. R.. (2004). T. S. Eliot's "Murder in the Cathedral": The Dramatic Music. The Choral Journal, 44(9), 39–41. Retrieved from

Catholic Literature: An Introduction. Murder in the Cathedral by T.S. Eliot: Tumblar House. pp. 30–. ISBN 978-0-9712786-4-6.

A fusion of drama and religion: A study of Mugen Noh in "Thomas Becket"
Maruki, Yasutaka
Studies in Theatre and Performance, Jun 1, 2010, Vol.30(2), pp.187-201

Richard Cattermole (1832). Becket, an historical tragedy pp. 7–.
George Darley (1840). Thomas à Becket: a dramatic chronicle, in five acts. Edward Moxon.

George Darley. The complete poetical works of George Darley  G. Routledge & sons, limited.
Archive.Org: Complete poetical works; p. 209 - 324  Thomas à Becket

Baron Alfred Tennyson Tennyson (1884). Becket. Macmillan and Company.

The Dramas of Alfred Lord Tennyson. On the number of works inspired by the story of Becket: Ardent Media. pp. 35–.

The Pastoral Play Fair Rosamund Performed by Amateurs in Cannizaro Wood Wimbledon 1886
Adapted by E.W. Godwin from Tennyson's play Becket

Paul Bleckley (1873). Thomas A'Becket: A Historical Drama. Economical Book and Job Printing House, V.P. Sisson & Company, proprietors.

Christopher Fry (1961). Curtmantle: a play. Oxford University Press.

Elizabeth Bridges Thomas Becket a drama. (1900)

Douglas William Jerrold (1829). Thomas A. Becket: An Historical Drama in Five Acts. John Dicks.

Aubrey de Vere St. Thomas of Canterbury, a Dramatic Poem (1876) 
Aubrey de Vere St. Thomas of Canterbury, a Dramatic Poem. Read Books Design. ISBN 978-1-4460-5883-1.

C T. Winter (1879). Becket: the story of his quarrel with Henry ii, dramatised.

Alfred Waites (1883). Thomas Beket, Or, The Mitre and the Crown. For private circulation.

George Darley (1840). Thomas à Becket: a dramatic chronicle, in five acts. Edward Moxon. pp. 1–.

Sir Arthur Helps (1843). King Henry the Second: an historical drama. W. Pickering.

Four Nights in Knaresborough - Wikipedia   Play

Storia di San Tommaso di Cantorbery e dei suoi tempi del prof. abate Pietro Balan. Poem in Latin by William Fitz-Stephen presented to the king in the royal chapel of Bruhull royal manor of Brill]: Tip. dell'Imm. Concezione. 1867. pp. 389–.

Gideon Hiram HOLLISTER (1866). Thomas à Becket; a tragedy [in five acts, and in verse] and other poems.

Clement William Barraud (2010). Saint Thomas of Canterbury and Saint Elizabeth of Hungary: Historical Dramas. Wildside Press LLC. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-1-4344-1140-2.

Paul Bleckley (1873) Thomas A'Becket : a historical drama in three acts

John William Brodie-Innes (1877). Thomas A'Becket. A Play, in Four Acts [and in Verse.].. For private circulation

Eugen Linz; Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (1934). Thomas Becket: ein drama. H. Haessel.
Thomas Becket (saint).) (1613). S. Thomas Cantuar (iensis): tr(a)goedia D(omine) O(mnium) M(agistro) B(eata) V(irgini) M(ariae) et eidem S. Thomae D(ono) D(edi).

William Henry Ireland (1799). Henry the Second: An Historical Drama.
This book contains quotes: The Confessions_of_William-Henry_Ireland

Four Nights in Knaresborough - Wikipedia
Play written by Paul Corcoran relating the aftermath to the murder of Becket. 

The Beckets of Cheapside : a play in one act
by Vera I. Arlett, British Drama League (1950)
Knight of Betrayal: A Medieval Haunting Free Audiobook - YouTube

V&A · National Art Library Blythe House Collection


Henry Irving as Thomas a Becket

Sir Henry Irving as Thomas à Beckett in 'Becket' by Henry Herschel Hay Cameron

Song of Lamentation for the Exile of Thomas Becket
In Rama sonat gemitus
Richard J. Utz; T. A. Shippey (1998). Medievalism in the modern world: essays in honour of Leslie J. Workman. Brepols. pp. 341-58
Nils Holger Petersen  «In Rama sonat gemitus...»: The Becket Story in a Danish Medievalist Music Drama. A vigil for Thomas Becket.
Jann Cosart (2007). Monophonic tropes and conductus of W1: the tenth fascicle. A-R Editions, Inc. pp. 11–. ISBN 978-0-89579-622-6.

Odile Pierre (1997). Le martyre de St. Thomas Becket: pour orgue, op. 4. Edizioni Carrara.

Assassinio nella cattedrale : tragedia musicale in due atti e un intermezzo. 
ridotto per la propria musica dalla versione italiana di A. Castelli, da I. Pizzetti. 
Trascrizione per canto e pianoforte di I. delle Cese.
by Ildebrando Pizzetti; T S Eliot
Assassinio nella cattedrale - Wikipedia

King - A Cathedral Opera
Music by Stephen Barlow
Words by Philip Wells
Performed at CANTERBURY CATHEDRAL 28, 29, 30 APRIL 2006
The shocking death of Thomas Becket is brought to life in an opera - The Independent

Die Rose von Woodstock grosse romantische Oper in vier Aufzügen
Bennewitz, Wilhelm. (composer)
Bouillon, Gustav. (librettist)                                  


Édélestand DU MÉRIL (1847). Poésies populaires latines du moyen age, etc. Lat. and Fr. Poeme sur Saint Thomas [in Latin]. pp. 70–.

Richard Scholl (1928). Thomas von Kandelberg: eine mittelhochdeutsche Marienlegende. H. Eichblatt.

Percy Society (1846). Early English Poetry, Ballads and Popular Literature of the Middle Ages: The civic garland ... Ed. ... by F. W. Fairholt. The life and martyrdom of Thomas Beket ... from the series of lives and legends now proved to have been composed by Robert of Gloucester. Percy society. pp. 9–.

Patrick Scott (1853). Thomas À Becket: And Other Poems. Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans. pp. 7–.

Gideon Hiram HOLLISTER (1866). Thomas à Becket; a tragedy [in five acts, and in verse] and other poems

Niloufer Harben (1988). Twentieth-century English History Plays: From Shaw to Bond. T.S. Eliot: Murder in the Cathedral: Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 105–. ISBN 978-0-389-20734-4.

Walter Chatillon (2006). The Alexandreis: A Twelfth-Century Epic. Broadview Press. pp. 222–. ISBN 978-1-77048-067-4.

St. Thomas à Becket, and other poems - Poyer, John

Actes Du Colloque International de Sedieres. André Vernet: La Thomaïde: Editions Beauchesne. pp. 9–

Hymn to Thomas Becket

Capitulum Laicorum Sancti Michaelis Archangeli

Kay Brainerd Slocum (2004). Liturgies in Honour of Thomas Becket. University of Toronto Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-8020-3650-6.

Owain Tudor Edwards (1990). Matins, Lauds, and Vespers for St. David's Day: The Medieval Office of the Welsh Patron Saint in National Library of Wales MS 20541 E. Boydell & Brewer. pp. 160–. ISBN 978-0-85991-293-8. 

Bridwell MS 13 [Book of Hours
Title: [Book of Hours]. Use of Sarum.
Origin: [France, Saint-Omer?: c.1330].
f142r-144v, Prayer to St. Thomas Becket of Canterbury
Partonopeus de Blois

Penny Eley (2011). Partonopeus de Blois. Boydell & Brewer Ltd. pp. 63–. ISBN 978-1-84384-274-3.

Becket Silent Movie (1923)


T.S. Eliot Murder in the Cathedral - YouTube

The Dramatic Magazine. 1829. pp. 337–.


Jeremy Dibble (2002). Charles Villiers Stanford: Man and Musician. Oxford University Press. pp. 1–. ISBN 978-0-19-816383-1.
Funeral march from 'Becket' by Charles V. Stanford

Kay Brainerd Slocum (2004). Liturgies in Honour of Thomas Becket. Chapter 7 - Office for the Feast Day of St. Thomas Becket 29th December: University of Toronto Press. pp. 135–. ISBN 978-0-8020-3650-6.


A legend of Canterbury; or, The people's martyr by Elizabeth M. Stewart


Robert York (1978). The swords of December. Scribner. ISBN 978-0-684-16142-6.

Margaret Butler (1977). The Lion of Christ. Coward, McCann & Geoghegan.

Lost plays

John Bale (ca 1538) The Knaveries of Thomas Becket (De Imposturis Thomae Becketi) [lost play]

Gordon McMullan; David Matthews (2007). Reading the Medieval in Early Modern England. Cambridge University Press. pp. 188–. ISBN 978-0-521-86843-3.


Timothy Reuter (2006). Medieval Polities and Modern Mentalities. Chapter 10:“Velle sibi fieri in forma hac”: Symbolic Acts in the Becket Dispute. Cambridge University Press. pp. 167–. ISBN 978-1-139-45954-9.

Actes Du Colloque International de Sedieres. Editions Beauchesne. pp. 291–.

The Dramas of Alfred Lord Tennyson. Tennyson's sources for 'Becket': Ardent Media. pp. 19–.

Timothy Reuter (2006). Medieval Polities and Modern Mentalities. Cambridge University Press. pp. 167–. ISBN 978-1-139-45954-9.

Henry II in Drama: Changing Historical Outlooks
Thomas M. Jones
Comparative Drama
Vol. 12, No. 4 (Winter 1978-79), pp. 309-325
Published by: Comparative Drama

A. G. Rigg (1992). A History of Anglo-Latin Literature, 1066-1422. Chapter II : Henry II tp John (1154-1216): Cambridge University Press. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-0-521-41594-1.

The Birth of the History Play: Saint, Sacrifice, and Reformation
Benjamin Griffin
Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900
Vol. 39, No. 2, Tudor and Stuart Drama (Spring, 1999), pp. 217-237
Published by: Rice University
DOI: 10.2307/1556163

John Bale's Nondramatic Works of Religious Controversy
Rainer Pineas
Studies in the Renaissance
Vol. 9 (1962), pp. 218-233
Published by: University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Renaissance Society of America
DOI: 10.2307/2857117
Stable URL:

Turner, V. (1974). Religious paradigms and political action: Thomas Becket at the Council of Northampton. V. Turner Dramas, Fields, and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society, 60-97.

J. May, Reigne of King Henry the Second, written in seauen books

Will Mountford, Henry II, King of England, London 1693. in
William Mountfort (1720). Six Plays, Written by Mr. Mountfort. In Two Volumes. ... J. Tonson ... G. Strahan ... and W. Mears. pp. 411–.
William Henry Ireland (1799). Henry the Second, an Historical Drama. Supposed to be Written by the Author of Vortigern. J. Barker; B. White; T. Egerton; and R. Faulder. pp. 77–.

Henry II Charles Grindrod  1876.

Thomas Hull, Henry II or the Fall of Rosamund, London 1773.
Thomas Hull (1797). Henry II: Or, The Fall of Rosamund : a Tragedy. proprietors, under the direction of John Bell.

Arthur Helps King Henry the Second

William Hawkins, Henry and Rosamond. London 1749.

George Wightwick (1851). Henry the second. A tragedy London

Ed. Rastoul, Thomas Becket, Avignon, Francoiß Sagnin 1907.
Edouard RastoulThomas Becket. Drame traduit et mis en vers (Avignon : F. Seguin). 1907

Actes Du Colloque International de Sedieres. Editions Beauchesne. pp. 285–

Jean-Marie Grassin: Le Mythe littéraire de Thomas Becket à l'époque moderne

Frank Reynolds (1976). The Biographical Process: Studies in the History and Psychology of Religion. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 153–. ISBN 978-90-279-7522-5.

Jeffrey C. Alexander; Bernhard Giesen; Jason L. Mast (4 May 2006). Social Performance: Symbolic Action, Cultural Pragmatics, and Ritual. Cambridge University Press. pp. 150–.ISBN 978-1-139-45267-0.

Larry D. Bouchard (2011). Theater and Integrity: Emptying Selves in Drama, Ethics, and Religion. Northwestern University Press. pp. 55–. ISBN 978-0-8101-2562-9.
Robert Southey (1829). The poetical works of Robert Southey: complete in one volume. A. and W. Galignani. pp. 287–.

Édélestand Du Méril (1847). Latina quae, medium per aevum, in triviis nec non monasteriis vulgabantur, carmina. Satire de saint Thomas Becket contres les Symoniaques: F. Didot. pp. 177–.

Cornelia Japiske  The Dramas of Alfred Lord Tennyson. "Thomas Becket in Literature"  Ardent Media. pp. 162–.

John Bergsagel; Thomas Riis; David Hiley (9 December 2015). Of Chronicles and Kings: National Saints and the Emergence of Nation States in the High Middle Ages. The Liturgical Commemoration of Thomas of Canterbury in Scandinavia, The First Thirty Years 1173-1203: Museum Tusculanum Press. pp. 223–. ISBN 978-87-635-4260-9.

Conrad Ferdinand Meyer (1930). The Saint. Simon and Schuster.
Conrad Ferdinand Meyer  Der Heilige. BoD – Books on Demand. ISBN 978-3-8430-6985-4.

"Noble knights, bold, proud, valiant": The Behavior of Romance Literature in Thomas Becket's Defense of the Church
April 2015
Honors History Thesis University of Michigan
Author: Leslie Teng

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