Famous 16th Century Playwrights

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 1 Miguel de Cervantes

Miguel de Cervantes
6
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: September 29, 1547
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Alcalá de Henares, Spain
Died: April 22, 1616

Miguel de Cervantes was a Spanish writer best known for his work Don Quixote, which is considered one of the high points of world literature. He is regarded as one of the greatest novelists of all time and the greatest writer to ever write in the Spanish language. His works have influenced other works of art like music and paintings.

 2 Ben Jonson

Ben Jonson
6
Famous As: Dramatist, Poet & Actor
Birthdate: June 11, 1572
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Westminster, London, England
Died: August 6, 1637

 3 Christopher Marlowe

Christopher Marlowe
6
Famous As: Playwright, Poet
Birthdate: February 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Canterbury, Kent, England
Died: May 30, 1593

English playwright, poet, and translator, Christopher Marlowe, was one of the major literary figures of the Elizabethan era. It is believed that he greatly influenced his contemporary William Shakespeare. He led a troubled life and died young under mysterious circumstances. Despite his early death, he is regarded as one of the foremost dramatists of the 16th century London.  

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 4 William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare
22
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: April 26, 1564
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, England
Died: April 23, 1616

English playwright, poet, and actor William Shakespeare is widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language. He is also often called England's national poet. Many of his works have been translated into other languages and his plays continue to be produced till day. Popular during his lifetime, he acquired an iconic status after his death.

 5 Lope de Vega

Lope de Vega
4
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: November 25, 1562
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: August 27, 1635

Spanish Baroque dramatist Lope de Vega was one of the most significant figures of the Spanish Golden Age. He had initially aspired to be a priest but abandoned his plans after falling in love with a married woman. He is best remembered for works such as The Dog in the Manger.

 6 Pietro Aretino

Pietro Aretino
3
Famous As: Poet, Writer, Playwright, Journalist
Birthdate: April 19, 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Arezzo
Died: October 21, 1556

Pietro Aretino was an Italian author, poet, satirist, and playwright. He wielded influence on contemporary politics and art. An outspoken critic, Aretino was one of the most important and influential writers of his generation. A self-proclaimed sodomite, Pietro Aretino was involved in romantic relationships with men, which was uncommon at that time.

 7 Giambattista della Porta

Giambattista della Porta
3
Famous As: Scholar, Polymath
Birthdate: November 1, 1535
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Vico Equense, Italy
Died: February 4, 1615

Giambattista della Porta was an Italian scholar, polymath, and playwright. He was active in Naples at the time of the Scientific Revolution and Reformation in the 16th century. He was knowledgeable in different fields, including occult philosophy, astrology, meteorology, alchemy, mathematics, and natural philosophy. In his later years, he collected rare specimens and grew exotic plants. 

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 8 John Lyly

John Lyly
3
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1553 AD
Birthplace: Kent, England
Died: October 31, 1606

 9 Thomas Nashe

Thomas Nashe
3
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: October 31, 1567
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Lowestoft, United Kingdom
Died: 1601 AD

 10 Thomas Middleton

Thomas Middleton
3
Famous As: Playwright, Poet, Writer
Birthdate: April 18, 1580
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: London
Died: July 4, 1627

 11 Margaret of Valois-Angouleme

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme
3
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: April 11, 1492
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Angoulême, France
Died: December 21, 1549

Margaret of Valois-Angouleme, the wife of Henry II of Navarre, was a significant figure of the French Renaissance, and is also regarded as The First Modern Woman. She patronized artists and was herself an author, with several short stories and a religious poem to her credit.

 12 John Fletcher

John Fletcher
4
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: November 30, 1579
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Rye, Sussex, England
Died: July 31, 1625

 13 Thomas Kyd

Thomas Kyd
3
Famous As: playwright, writer
Birthdate: November 6, 1558
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: London
Died: July 16, 1594

 14 Izumo no Okuni

Izumo no Okuni
3
Famous As: Inventor
Birthdate: 1572 AD
Birthplace: Izumo Province, Japan
Died: November 30, 1613

 15 Thomas Dekker

Thomas Dekker
3
Famous As: playwright, poet, writer
Birthdate: 1572 AD
Birthplace: London
Died: August 25, 1632

 16 Tirso de Molina

Tirso de Molina
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Famous As: Known for writing The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest, the play from which the popular character of Don Juan originates
Birthdate: March 24, 1583
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Madrid, Spain
Died: February 20, 1648

Spanish Baroque dramatist, poet and Roman Catholic monk Tirso de Molina is best known for writing the play The Trickster of Seville and the Stone Guest which first introduced the legendary fictional character of Don Juan. Other notable works of Molina includes the comedy sitcom Don Gil of the green tights and the trilogy of The Santa Juana.

 17 Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke

Fulke Greville, 1st Baron Brooke
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: October 3, 1554
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Beauchamp Court, England
Died: September 30, 1628

 18 John Heywood

John Heywood
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1497 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1580 AD

 19 George Peele

George Peele
3
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 25, 1556
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: November 9, 1596

 20 Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset

Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1536 AD
Birthplace: Withyham, England
Died: April 19, 1608

 21 Samuel Daniel

Samuel Daniel
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1562 AD
Birthplace: Taunton, England
Died: October 14, 1619

 22 Thomas Heywood

Thomas Heywood
2
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: 1575 AD
Birthplace: Lincolnshire, England
Died: August 16, 1641

Noted Elizabethan and Jacobean dramatist Thomas Heywood is best remembered for his iconic tragedy A Woman Killed with Kindness and his prose work An Apology for Actors. Though it is generally believed he was a University of Cambridge alumnus, there are no records of the fact.

 23 Francis Beaumont

Francis Beaumont
2
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: 1584 AD
Birthplace: Grace-Dieu, England
Died: March 6, 1616

 24 Henry Wotton

Henry Wotton
2
Famous As: Author
Birthdate: March 30, 1568
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: England
Died: December 1, 1639

Apart from being a diplomat, Henry Wotton was also a poet and a patron of the arts. The Oxford alumnus is best remembered for his poems such as You meaner beauties of the night, which were dedicated to Elizabeth of Bohemia, the daughter of King James I.

 25 John Marston

John Marston
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: October 7, 1576
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Coventry,England
Died: June 25, 1634

 26 Gil Vicente

Gil Vicente
2
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: 1465 AD
Birthplace: Guimaraes, Portugal
Died: 1536 AD

 27 Philip Massinger

Philip Massinger
2
Famous As: English playwright
Birthdate: 1583 AD
Birthplace: Wilton, United Kingdom
Died: March 17, 1640

 28 James Shirley

James Shirley
2
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: September 18, 1596
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 29, 1666

 29 Xu Wei

Xu Wei
2
Famous As: Chinese painter
Birthdate: 1521 AD
Birthplace: China
Died: 1593 AD

 30 Juan del Encina

Juan del Encina
2
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: July 12, 1468
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: near Encinas, Spain
Died: 1529 AD

Juan del Encina is largely regarded as one of the pioneers of Spanish drama. He had been the court poet/dramatist for the Duke of Alba. Some of his best-known works were compiled in Cancionero. His églogas often dealt with mythological themes that were previously found in the Italian works.

 31 Nicholas Udall

Nicholas Udall
2
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: 1504 AD
Birthplace: Southampton, England
Died: December 23, 1556

 32 Richard Tarlton

Richard Tarlton
2
Famous As: Actor
Birthdate: 1530 AD
Birthplace: England
Died: September 3, 1588

 33 Pierre Gringore

Pierre Gringore
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1475 AD
Birthplace: Normandy, France
Died: 1539 AD

 34 Gian Giorgio Trissino

Gian Giorgio Trissino
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: July 8, 1478
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Vicenza, Italy
Died: December 8, 1550

 35 David Lyndsay

David Lyndsay
2
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1490 AD
Birthplace: East Lothian Council, Scotland
Died: 1555 AD

David Lyndsay was a Scottish herald and poet whose literary work is often counted among the finest of the Renaissance. A well-known makar, David Lyndsay is depicted among the 16 Scottish poets and writers on the famous Scott Monument in Edinburgh. 

 36 Théophile de Viau

Théophile de Viau
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1590 AD
Birthplace: Clairac, France
Died: September 25, 1626

 37 José de Anchieta

José de Anchieta
2
Famous As: First playwright, the first grammarian and the first poet born in the Canary Islands, and the father of Brazilian literature
Birthdate: March 19, 1534
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: San Cristóbal de La Laguna, Spain
Died: June 9, 1597

An influential Jesuit missionary in the Portuguese colony of Brazil, José de Anchieta worked with the indigenous population, converting many of them into Catholic faith. He also wrote Arte de grammtica da lingoa mais usada na costa do Brasil, providing orthography to the local Tupi language and is known to co-found the cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

 38 Nathan Field

Nathan Field
1
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: October 17, 1587
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: London, England
Died: 1620 AD

 39 Anthony Munday

Anthony Munday
1
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: 1560 AD
Birthplace: London, England
Died: August 10, 1633

 40 William Cornysh

William Cornysh
1
Famous As: Composer
Birthdate: 1465 AD
Birthplace: Greenwich, England
Died: September 30, 1523

 41 William Rowley

William Rowley
1
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: 1585 AD
Birthplace: England, United Kingdom
Died: January 31, 1626

 42 Cyril Tourneur

Cyril Tourneur
1
Famous As: Soldier
Birthdate: 1575 AD
Birthplace: Great Parndon,England
Died: February 28, 1626

 43 Honoré d' Urfé

Honoré d' Urfé
1
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: February 11, 1568
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Marseille, France
Died: June 1, 1625

 44 Giovanni Battista Guarini

Giovanni Battista Guarini
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: December 10, 1538
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Ferrara, Italy
Died: October 7, 1612

 45 Mateo Alemán

Mateo Alemán
1
Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: August 31, 1547
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Seville, Spain
Died: 1614 AD

 46 Federico Della Valle

Federico Della Valle
1
Famous As: Playwright
Birthdate: 1560 AD
Birthplace: Asti, Italy
Died: 1628 AD

 47 Lope de Rueda

Lope de Rueda
1
Famous As: Dramatist
Birthdate: 1510 AD
Birthplace: Seville, Spain
Died: 1565 AD

 48 Gerbrand Bredero

Gerbrand Bredero
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: March 16, 1585
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: August 23, 1618

Gerbrand Bredero was a Dutch playwright and poet who played an important role during the Dutch Golden Age. His works include the famous De klucht van de koe, which can be translated as Farce of the Cow. A memorial to Gerbrand Bredero can be seen in Amsterdam.

 49 Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert

Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert
1
Famous As: Writer
Birthdate: June 1, 1522
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Died: October 29, 1590

Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert, or Theodore Cornhert, was the man who introduced Humanism in Dutch literature. Known for works such as Liedekens, De wellevenskunste, and Comedie van Israël, he was an engraver in Haarlem and also worked for the city’s government. He also created the manifesto of William the Silent, Prince of Orange.

 50 Thomas May

Thomas May
1
Famous As: Poet
Birthdate: 1595 AD
Birthplace: Mayfield and Five Ashes, England
Died: November 13, 1650