Ford, John, 1586–c.1640, English dramatist, b. Devonshire. He went to London to study law but was never called to the bar. The early part of his playwriting career was taken up with collaborations, primarily with Dekker. His three major tragedies, 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, The Broken Heart, and Love's Sacrifice, and a historical play, Perkin Warbeck appeared between 1627 and 1634. Ford was the most important playwright during the reign of Charles I. His plays are characterized by a sympathetic treatment of thwarted love, and they stress the conflict between the power of human passion and the laws of conscience and society. They are intense, melancholy, and violent, often revealing his interest in abnormal psychology and taboo subjects— 'Tis Pity She's a Whore deals with incest.
See biography by D. K. Anderson (1972); studies by M. Stavig (1968), F. Ali (1974), and D. Anderson (1986).
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