Item #4791 'Tis Pitty Shee's a Whore. Acted by the Queenes Maiesties Servants at the Phoenix in Drury-Lane. John Ford, 1585-ca.1640.
'Tis Pitty Shee's a Whore. Acted by the Queenes Maiesties Servants at the Phoenix in Drury-Lane.
'Tis Pitty Shee's a Whore. Acted by the Queenes Maiesties Servants at the Phoenix in Drury-Lane.
'Tis Pitty Shee's a Whore. Acted by the Queenes Maiesties Servants at the Phoenix in Drury-Lane.
'Tis Pitty Shee's a Whore. Acted by the Queenes Maiesties Servants at the Phoenix in Drury-Lane.
'Tis Pitty Shee's a Whore. Acted by the Queenes Maiesties Servants at the Phoenix in Drury-Lane.

'Tis Pitty Shee's a Whore. Acted by the Queenes Maiesties Servants at the Phoenix in Drury-Lane.

London: Printed by Nicholas Okes for Richard Collins, 1633.

Price: $65,000.00

Quarto: 18.1 x 12.4 cm. [76] p. Collation: A2 B-K4. Without the scarce leaf with the poem by Thomas Ellice inserted in a few copies (see Pforzheimer 383 and note in references below.)

FIRST EDITION.

Bound in 19th century half calf and marbled boards (leather scraped at corners and spine, light wear at lower edges.), spine with title and date tooled in gold. Contents foxed and spotted, some minor stains, outer margin of H4 and I3 trimmed with some minor loss to the ends of the last two lines and the catchword on H4 recto, and the two-line stage direction at the bottom of I3 recto. With an 18th century ink inscription on the title, reading “”written by John Ford.” With the paper label of James Stevens Cox, (1910-1997), bookseller, publisher, writer, archaeologist, historian, and hairdresser.

First edition of John Ford’s shocking tragedy dramatizing the incestuous relationship between brother and sister. “The play's open treatment of the subject of incest made it one of the most controversial works in English literature.” (Logan & Smith 128)

“John Ford never met a character he didn’t want to kill: gruesomely, ingeniously, poignantly. He liked them stabbed, starved, poisoned, burnt, bled and assaulted by roving packs of bandits. His two best plays — “The Broken Heart” and “ ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore”  — boast body counts nearly as long as the cast lists.

“In ‘'Tis Pitty shee's a Whore’ John Ford presents a “disorienting treatment of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, reinventing the lovers as a mutually infatuated brother and sister. Like ‘Romeo and Juliet’, ‘'Tis Pitty’ ends in a scene of erotic sacrifice in which both lovers are destroyed, but in Ford's version Giovanni is both celebrant and executioner, making his spectacular final entry with Annabella's heart impaled on his own dagger…

“Ford began his career as a poet in the early 1600s, then moved to playmaking, working collaboratively with other writers, like Thomas Dekker and John Webster. In the late 1620s Ford struck out on his own, writing eight plays over a decade and then promptly disappearing from the historical record, just as his plays soon disappeared from theaters.

“Yet Ford has become popular in the last [30] years, and feels wholly contemporary. Mark Houlahan, a senior lecturer at the University of Waikato in New Zealand, said he thought today’s audiences responded to Ford’s “extremes of violence and passion,” while Lisa Hopkins, a Ford authority who teaches at Sheffield Hallam University in England, praised his “aesthetic of silence and nuance.” Ford is a playwright of dichotomies, somehow both restrained and outrageous, shrewd and shocking.

“ ’Tis Pity” breaks many rules. Set in Renaissance Parma and inhabiting some very tricky moral territory, it concerns the incestuous love between Annabella, to whom the title refers, and her brother Giovanni… As scandalous as this affair seems, it’s also presented as the play’s purest bond, a taboo riff on Romeo and Juliet. Yet Ms. Hopkins, the Sheffield professor, advises that we shouldn’t take Ford’s moral relativism too far. “I doubt anyone ever came away thinking, ‘What a marvelous idea, I must go and sleep with my brother,’” she said.”(Alexis Soloski, “Extreme Theater: Wake-Up Calls From the 1600s,” theater review, New York Times, Jan. 27, 2012)

“John Ford's most important work as an independent dramatist belongs entirely to the reign of Charles I, beginning with ‘The Lovers Melancholy’ in 1628 and ending a decade later with ‘The Ladies Triall’ (1638). Between the staging of these two tragicomedies Ford published three tragedies, ‘Loves Sacrifice’, ‘'Tis Pitty shee's a Whore’, and ‘The Broken Heart’, a chronicle history, ‘Perkin Warbeck’, and a romantic comedy, ‘The Fancies, Chast and Noble’. Ford worked for the King’s Men, Shakespeare's old company, and he later transferred his allegiance to the Queen's Men, at whose Phoenix playhouse the remainder of his plays were performed.

“From his theatrical predecessors—especially Shakespeare, whose love-tragedies Othello and Romeo and Juliet provided him with a particularly rich source of inspiration—[John Ford] borrowed not only tricks of style, but characters, episodes, and sometimes entire plots.”(ODNB).

STC 11165; Greg II 486; Pforzheimer 383 (“In a very few copies, e.g. the Bridgewater-Huntington and the T.J. Snyder copy a leaf is inserted following the dedication.”); ESTC S102426