Ben Shahn, 1966.
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(born June 11?, 1572, London, Eng.—died Aug. 6, 1637, London) British playwright, poet, and critic. After learning stagecraft as a strolling player, he wrote plays for Philip Henslowe's theatres. In 1598 his comedy Every Man in His Humour established his reputation. He wrote several masques for the court of James I and created the “antimasque” to precede the masque proper. His classic plays Volpone (1605–06), The Alchemist (1610), and Bartholomew Fair (1614) use satire to expose the follies and vices of his age, attacking greed, charlatanism, and religious hypocrisy as well as mocking the fools who fall victim to them. Regarded as the era's leading dramatist after William Shakespeare, Jonson influenced later playwrights, notably in the dramatic characterization of Restoration comedies (see Restoration literature). He was also a lyric poet whose works include two famous elegies for his son and daughter.
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