John Ford

The Complete Works of John Ford

John Ford (1586-c. 1639) was a major dramatist, who began his career in the Jacobean public theatre, writing for the King’s Men at the Globe and Blackfriars, but completed it in the Caroline private theatre, with Queen Henrietta’s Men at the Phoenix, Drury Lane. His work spans twenty years of theatrical activity after Shakespeare’s death, his plays are both living dramatic vehicles, as modern revivals have proved, and important evidence for English theatrical and social history.

1. Previous editions

Ford’s plays were last edited in 1869, when Alexander Dyce revised William Gifford’s 1827 edition, in modern spelling; Dyce’s edition received further, slight revisions by A. H. Bullen in 1895. An old-spelling edition of the seven plays in the accepted canon was produced by W. Bang and H. De Vocht in the relative obscurity of their series Materialien zur Kunde des älteren Englischen Dramas, in two instalments (Louvain, 1908, 1927). Since then, his most popular plays have been edited several times, in the Revels, Regents’ Renaissance Drama, Penguin, and New Mermaid series. The canon itself has been enlarged by the confident ascription to Ford of two plays, sole-authored (The Queen, published anonymously in 1653), and co-authored (The Laws of Candy, included in the 1647 Works of Beaumont and Fletcher). In addition, modern scholarship has identified Ford’s share in five co-authored plays: The Sun’s Darling and The Welsh Ambassador (both with Dekker); The Witch of Edmonton (with Dekker and Rowley); The Spanish Gypsy and The Fair Maid of the Inn (with Massinger and Webster). In this edition I attribute The Laws of Candy to Massinger and Ford, and The Spanish Gypsy to Ford and Dekker (with occasional interventions by Middleton).

No previous edition of Ford has included his poems and prose works. A pioneering edition of these, The Non-Dramatic Works of John Ford (general editor Leo Stock), was published in 1991 in old spelling, with textual notes and Commentary, which has served as a valuable reference point. In addition to poems published by Ford in his life time our edition includes Jeremy Maule’s discovery of Ford’s hitherto unknown ‘Elegy on John Fletcher’, and A Funerall Elegye, ascribed to Ford by Brian Vickers, ‘Counterfeiting’ Shakespeare. Evidence, Authorship, and John Ford’s Funerall Elegye (Cambridge University Press, 2002)

The first reason for producing a complete edition of Ford is the advantage of having all his works edited according to the same rigorous editorial principles, presenting his oeuvre in a form that will make him accessible both to readers in general and to scholars. But further, Ford’s poems and prose works (written between 1606 and 1625) form a unity with his plays, for in all three genres Ford was drawn to subject matter involving virtue in adversity, people suffering injustice or death whose merits he celebrated. In his non-dramatic works, speaking in his own person, Ford commemorated exemplars of virtue. These ranged from Jesus (Christes Bloodie Sweat) and reputable heroes (Mountjoy in Fames Memoriall, Harington in A Line of Life) to less acceptable figures, such as Essex and his sister Penelope Rich (Mountjoy’s mistress, mother of five illegitimate children), and Northumberland, incarcerated in the Tower for alleged treason. In his mature drama Ford projected his admiration for nobility in the face of adversity on to characters who flout conventional morality: in ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore the incestuous brother; in The Broken Heart the evil Orgilus; in Perkin Warbeck the illegitimate pretender (or so history presented him: Ford took a different view). The tension that Ford aroused in the audience between emotional involvement and rational disapproval, together with his appeal to a theatrically aware public which could recognize his allusions to other plays, gave him a special place in Caroline drama. By treating Ford’s work as a whole we hope to throw more light on his distinctive contribution to English drama.

2. Editorial principles

All texts will be freshly edited from the editions published during Ford’s lifetime, along with the later publications mentioned above. The textual situation in Ford is relatively straightforward, for with the exception of a few manuscripts (a scribal presentation copy of Fames Memorial in the Bodleian; a scribal ms. of The Welsh Ambassador in the National Library of Wales) most of his works exist in a single Quarto, the later editorial tradition not being established until the 18th century (Dodsley 1744; Dodsley-Reed 1780; Weber 1811; Gifford 1827; Dyce 1869). However, the seven canonical Quartos survive in over 250 copies scattered around the world (between 24 and 40 copies of each play), which will need to be collated for stop-press corrections. Fortunately, microfilms of most of these were presented to the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon by the generosity of Professor Akihiro Yamada. The Institute kindly loaned us the films for digitisation, and Dr Carter Hailey, using his own Optical Collating Machine (which enables rapid and accurate collation of multiple copies in conjunction with a reference copy-text on a computer screen),  collated several plays for us. Some editors have made additional investigations.

All editorial decisions rest with each editor, in consultation with myself. Texts will preserve the original spellings and (where feasible) punctuation, since it is widely perceived that in Early Modern English the shape and sound of words, together with their syntactical and rhetorical organization, preserve elements of meaning and historical context that are simply destroyed by modernization.

The editors have agreed on a few basic editorial conventions. Speech-prefixes (often abbreviated in copy-texts) are to be printed in full, with spelling standardized; stage-directions, including entrances and exits, are to be regularized; directions that are needed in order to clarify the on-stage action, lacking in the early texts, will be added within square brackets; verse-lineation will be regularized, and prose will be presented in a standard measure. As for correcting or emending the text, rather than attempt to define hard-and-fast principles in advance, we will judge each instance on its merits.

3. Organization of the edition



Volume I

Ed. Gilles Monsarrat, Brian Vickers, and R. J. C. Watt (pp. xxiv+696; ISBN 9780199592906), containing Ford’s poems and prose works, was published in 2012. See the Oxford University Press website for further details.



Brian Vickers

John Ford: The Early Years (1586-1620)                                                              
Gilles Monsarrat

Honor Triumphant and The Monarches Meeting (1606)                          
Edited by Gilles Monsarrat

Fames Memoriall, or The Earle of Devonshire Deceased (1606)                           
Edited by Brian Vickers and R. J .C. Watt

A Funerall Elegie for William Peter (1612)                                                             
Edited by Brian Vickers

Christes Bloodie Sweat (1613)                                                                                  
Edited by R. J. C. Watt and Brian Vickers

The Golden Meane (1613 and 1614)                                                                       
Edited by Gilles Monsarrat

A Line of Life (printed text (1620) and MS)
Edited by Gilles Monsarrat

Elegy on John Fletcher (ca. 1625)                                                                             
Edited by Brian Vickers

Uncollected Pieces in prose and verse (1606-1638)
Edited by Brian Vickers



Ed. Brian Vickers (pp. 992; ISBN 9780198748878) will be published in December 2016. See the Oxford University Press website for further details.


Volume II discusses the authorship attributions of the six co-authored plays.



Introduction 1: Co-authorship in Jacobean and Caroline Drama

Introduction 2: Identifying co-authors

Authorship Introduction Laws of Candy, with Commentary

Authorship Introduction Witch of Edmonton, with Commentary

Authorship Introduction The Welsh Ambassador, with Commentary

Authorship Introduction The Spanish Gypsy, with Commentary

Authorship Introduction The Sun’s Darling, with Commentary

Authorship Introduction The Fair Maid of the Inn, with Commentary


Volume III contains the six co-authored plays, with critical and textual introductions, textual collations, and commentaries on each play.


The Laws of Candy (1619-20), with Massinger
Edited by Brian  Vickers and Christopher Adams

The Witch of Edmonton (1621), with Dekker, Rowley, and Middleton
Edited by Rowland Wymer

The Welsh Ambassador (1623), with Dekker
Edited by Nigel Bawcutt

The Spanish Gypsy (1623), with Dekker, Rowley, and Middleton
Edited by Marcus Dahl, Christopher Adams, and Brian Vickers

The Sun’s Darling (1624), with Dekker
Edited by Christopher Adams and Brian Vickers

The Fair Maid of the Inn (1626), with Massinger and Webster
Edited by Martin Wiggins and Eleanor Lowe




Volume IV is in preparation.


The Queen (1627)
Edited by Eleanor Lowe and Martin Wiggins

The Lover’s Melancholy (1628)
Edited by Tom Cain

The Broken Heart (1629)

Edited by Lisa Hopkins

’Tis Pity She’s a Whore (1631)
Edited by Katsuhiko Nogami and Brian Vickers


Volume V is in preparation.


Perkin Warbeck (1632)
Edited by Gilles Monsarrat

Love’s Sacrifice (1633)
Edited by Nigel Bawcutt

The Fancies, Chaste and Noble (1636)
Edited by Lisa Hopkins

The Lady’s Trial (1638)
Edited by Katsuhiko Nogami


Editorial board

Professor Sir Brian Vickers, Litt.D., F.B.A., School of Advanced Study, London University
Christopher Adams, Institute of English Studies, London University
Dr. Nigel Bawcutt, Emeritus, University of Liverpool
Professor Lisa Hopkins, Sheffield Hallam University
Professor Gilles Monsarrat, Emeritus, University of Burgundy, Dijon
Professor Katsuhiko Nogami, Chiba Institute of Technology, Tokyo
Dr. R. J. C. Watt, Honorary Research Fellow in English, University of Dundee
Dr. Martin Wiggins, the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-upon-Avon
Professor Rowland Wymer, Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge

  • Featured Publications

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    For more details, please click on the book cover above.

Brian Vickers (ed.), The Complete Works of John Ford, Volume II and III. Oxford University Press, 29 September 2016. Hardcover £180.00. 992 pages. 234x156mm. ISBN 9780198748878

Volumes II and III of the Complete Works of John Ford contain the six plays that Ford wrote at the beginning of his theatrical career in collaboration with other dramatists: The Laws of Candy (1619-20) with Massinger, The Witch of Edmonton (1621) with Dekker and Rowley, The Welsh Ambassador (1623) with Dekker, The Spanish Gypsy (1623) with Dekker, Rowley, and Middleton, The Sun’s Darling (1624) with Dekker, and The Fair Maid of the Inn (1626) with Massinger and Webster. This is the first time that Ford’s co-authored works have been collected. In Volume II the General Editor, Sir Brian Vickers, contributes two Introductions, ‘Co-authorship in Jacobean and Caroline Drama’, and ‘Identifying Co-Authors’. In the first he reviews collaborative authorship (practiced by every dramatist of this period), in terms of theatrical conditions, the competing companies, the need for new repertoire, the process of assigning individual contributions and assembling the whole play. In the second he discusses the methods that have been applied over the last two centuries to identify co-authors. He then provides separate discussions of the authorship problem in each play, evaluating previous attributions and bringing new evidence to bear. A special feature of this volume is the introduction of a new methodology, based on computer software programs that identify student plagiarism. Used in combination with high-speed search engines and a large electronic database of contemporary plays, this method permits for the first time accurate identification of each co-author’s contribution.

Volume III contains the text of the plays, edited by a team composed of established and younger scholars. Five of the plays — The Laws of Candy, The Witch of Edmonton, The Spanish Gypsy, The Sun’s Darling and The Fair Maid of the Inn — have been freshly edited from the original editions, surviving copies of which have been collated to identify press corrections. The sixth, The Welsh Ambassador, has been edited from the sole extant manuscript. For each work the editors provide an introduction that discusses the play’s date and theatrical genesis, its sources, dramaturgy and other features. A full commentary is provided for all texts, giving historical explanations of the vocabulary, parallel passages in other works by Ford, and theatrical annotation, where relevant. This volume provides a unique opportunity for everyone interested in the career of a major playwright to appreciate how he learned his trade by collaborating with more experienced dramatists, a process in which his own distinctive voice was formed.


Brian Vickers, The One King LearHarvard University Press, 21 April  2016. Hardcover $45.00 • £30.00 • €35.00. 410 pages. 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches, 7 halftones, 1 line illustration, 2 tables. ISBN 9780674504844

King Lear exists in two different texts: the Quarto (1608) and the Folio (1623). Because each supplies passages missing in the other, for over 200 years editors combined the two to form a single text, the basis for all modern productions. Then in the 1980s a group of influential scholars argued that the two texts represent different versions of King Lear, that Shakespeare revised his play in light of theatrical performance. The two-text theory has since hardened into orthodoxy. Now for the first time in a book-length argument, one of the world’s most eminent Shakespeare scholars challenges the two-text theory. At stake is the way Shakespeare’s greatest play is read and performed.

Sir Brian Vickers demonstrates that the cuts in the Quarto were in fact carried out by the printer because he had underestimated the amount of paper he would need. Paper was an expensive commodity in the early modern period, and printers counted the number of lines or words in a manuscript before ordering their supply. As for the Folio, whereas the revisionists claim that Shakespeare cut the text in order to alter the balance between characters, Vickers sees no evidence of his agency. These cuts were likely made by the theater company to speed up the action. Vickers includes responses to the revisionist theory made by leading literary scholars, who show that the Folio cuts damage the play’s moral and emotional structure and are impracticable on the stage.

Praise for The One King Lear:

“This is a big, bold book, a major piece of scholarship for everyone to engage with. No one interested in the texts of Shakespeare’s work (and not only in the texts of King Lear) will be able to ignore it.”

– Peter Holland, University of Notre Dame

The One ‘King Lear’ is concerned with one of the most interesting and controversial issues relating not just to the two texts of what some see as Shakespeare’s greatest play, but to the dramatist and his art. There is much to enjoy in this book, and much to learn from it.”

– H.R. Woudhuysen, University of Oxford


B41-2008(Co-author) Mächtige Worte. Antike Rhetorik und europäische Literatur, by Brian Vickers and Sabine Köllmann (Berlin: LIT-Verlag, 2008), partial translation of  B23, with new material.


B40-2007Shakespeare, ‘A Lover’s Complaint’, and John Davies of Hereford (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), pp. xii, 329.


B39-2005(Co-Editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. The Merchant of Venice, ed. by William Baker and Brian Vickers (London and New York; Continuum, 2004), pp. xli, 437. General Editor’s Preface, pp. ix–xli.


B38-2004(General Editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. Coriolanus, 1687–1940, ed. by David George (London and New York; Continuum, 2004), pp. xxvi, 448. General Editor’s Preface, pp. viii–xxiii.


B37-2002Shakespeare, Co-author. A Historical Study of Five Collaborative Plays (Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. xxix, 561. ISBN: 978-0-19-925653-2


B36-2002‘Counterfeiting’ Shakespeare. Evidence, Authorship, and John Ford’s Funerall Elegye (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. xxvii, 568.


B35-2001(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. Measure for Measure, 1783–1920 ed. by George Geckle (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 2001), pp. xxxvi, 382. General Editor’s Preface, pp. x–xxxiv.


B34-2000(Editor) English Renaissance Literary Criticism (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), Pp. xv, 675. ISBN: 978-0-19-818679-3

‘Vickers’s splendid, fifty-five-page introduction puts his selection in context, tracing its application of the dazzling variety of classical rhetoric. This must be one of the most pithily compressed accounts ever attempted of criticism as applied rhetoric. It treats two related features most fully: imitatio, and the conception of literature as recommending virtue.
…Vickers rightly rebuts Foucault’s ill-informed notion of originality as an eighteenth-century discovery. In the Renaissance, a route to originality lay through assimilating a model’s qualities by imitatio, as Shakespeare did.…

The introduction treats the criterion of decorum as a relatively minor topic, equivalent to “correctness”. Fuller treatment might have brought out better its ramifying, ubiquitous presence in English criticism … But most of the emphases and judgments of the introduction could hardly have been bettered…..

Since English Renaissance Literary Criticism may well become the standard reference collection, its canon assumes some importance. Certain of the inclusions are inevitable.…

Vickers’s Notes are a model of pertinence and economy. They not only adduce a wide variety of ancient source, but ascribe these discriminatingly, in accordance with modern scholarship. And they implicitly confirm the coherence of English Renaissance criticism, by pointing to the same rhetorical authorities and showing the routes by which ancient criticism and rhetoric came to be absorbed.…

However, this excellent anthology can be recommended with very few reservations.’

– Alastair Fowler, Times Literary Supplement, 9 June 2000

‘Vickers’s introduction is lucid, wide-ranging and masterly. His notes are superb and properly acknowledge the contributions of earlier scholars. His selection of texts is enterprising, including much that is new, as well as a judicious choice of the best that is well-known. He provides a helpful glossary and user-friendly indexes to the material. This book is as useful as Russell and Winterbottom’s famous selection of Ancient Literary Criticism and when it appears in paperback teachers and students of renaissance literature will find it indispensable.’

– Peter Mack, Rhetorica (Winter 2002)


B33-1999(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. A Midsummer Night’s Dream, 1775–1920, ed. by Judith M. Kennedy and Richard F. Kennedy (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 1999), pp. xxi, 461. General Editor’s Preface, pp. x–xix.


B32a-2002(Editor) Francis Bacon, The Essays and Counsels, Civil and Moral (The Folio Society, 2002).


B32-1999(Editor) Francis Bacon, The Essays and Counsels, Civil and Moral (Oxford World’s Classics, 1999): pp. xliii, 216.


B31-1998(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. Richard II, 1780–1920 ed. by Charles Forker (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 1998), pp. xviii, 593. General Editor’s Preface, pp. x–xv.


B30-1998(Editor) Francis Bacon, History of the Reign of King Henry VII (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), pp. x, 281. (“Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought”)


B29-1996(General editor) Shakespeare. The Critical Tradition. King John ed. by Joseph Candido (London and NJ: Athlone Press, 1996), pp. xvi, 415. General Editor’s Preface, pp. vi–ix.


B28c-2008(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), pp. li, 813. (“ Oxford World’s Classics”)


B28b-2002(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), pp. li, 813. (“The Oxford Authors”)


B28a-1996(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. li, 813. (“The Oxford Authors”).


B28-1996(Editor) Francis Bacon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. li, 813. (“The Oxford Authors”)


B27a-2001Ripensare Shakespeare. Questioni di critica contemporanea (Milan, 2001). Italian translation of B27 by Mario Baccianini, Marina Merella, and Alessandra Di Luzio.


B27-1994Appropriating Shakespeare: Contemporary Critical Quarrels (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993), pp. xvi, 501. Paperback ed. 1994; repr. 1996.


B26-1989Returning to Shakespeare (London: Routledge, 1989), pp. viii, 257.


B25a-1989Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry; second ed., with new Preface and additional bibliography (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), pp. vii, 186.


B25-1989Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry; second ed., with new Preface and additional bibliography (Carbondale, Ill.: Southern Illinois University Press, 1989), pp. vii, 186.


B24-1988Francis Bacon, German translation of  B15 and A30 by Reinhard Kaiser (Berlin: Wagenbach, 1988), pp. 78.


B23a-1994Storia della retorica (Bologna: il Mulino, 1994), pp. 649. Italian translation of B23 by Rocco Coronato; introduction by Andrea Battistini.


B23-1988In Defence of Rhetoric (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988), pp. xi, 508.

‘Brian Vickers has written an invaluable book for anyone concerned with the arts of language, and his title is exact. In Defence of Rhetoric is just that, but it is also more than the word ‘defence’ might ordinarily suggest. A skilled orator well versed in the art he espouses, Professor Vickers examines his subject in all its various parts. The result is a comprehensive survey of the subject that both instructs and defends.…

The third part of his defence lies in an examination of the art itself. This begins in the book’s opening chapter, where he presents an eighty-two part summary of classical rhetoric. It is one of the most useful summaries I have read.’

– Marion Trousdale, Modern Language Review 85, 1990

‘“It is better to will the good than to know the truth”, Petrarch famously declared. Brian Vickers agrees and, heir to an anti-Platonist tradition that goes back at least to Isocrates in the fourth century BC, he argues that the will is best directed to the good by means of rhetoric, the art of persuasive communication and the systematization of natural eloquence. In his admirably learned, wide-ranging and thoroughly polemical history of that art, Professor Vickers also accepts the Renaissance view (which derives from Cicero and, ultimately, from Aristotle’s Rhetoric) that “the way to the will … [lies] partly through the reason”…

One of Vickers’s great accomplishments is that, with an erudition as deep as his touch is light, he shows the central role rhetoric has actually played in Western culture. He documents in painstaking detail the immense efforts devoted to the teaching and learning of rhetoric, in Rome as well as in the Renaissance….…

Vickers’s avowed goal is to restore rhetoric to the central position within culture which, he argues, it often enjoyed in the past and which he passionately, and not always unreasonably, believes it still deserves….…

Vickers’s book is also a triumph of formal exposition. It contains a remarkably lucid account of the three genres of oratory (judicial, deliberative and epideictic), of the five stages of rhetorical composition, of the six parts of the oration, and of the orator’s three duties (to instruct, to move and to delight). It also includes the best and clearest discussion of the rhetorical tropes and figures of which I am aware….…

It would be inappropriate to end this discussion on anything other than a note of gratitude for the inventio, dispositio and elocutio displayed in this remarkable history.’

– Alexander Nehamas, Times Literary Supplement, 15–21 July 1988


B22a-1987(Editor) English Science, Bacon to Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. xi, 244.


B22-1987(Editor) English Science, Bacon to Newton (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. xi, 244.


B21-1986(Editor) Public and Private Life in the Seventeenth Century: The Mackenzie-Evelyn Debate (Delmar, NY: Scholars’ Facsimiles and Reprints, 1986), pp. xlii, 277. – Introduction, pp. ix–xlii.


B20-1985(Editor) Arbeit, Musse, Meditation. Betrachtungen zur Vita activa und Vita contemplativa (Zurich: Verlag der Fachvereine, 1985), pp. 307. (Proceedings of an international symposium held at the Centre for Renaissance Studies in 1981). – Introduction, pp. 1–19.


B19a-1990Mentalidades ocultas y científicas en el Renacimento (Madrid: Alianza Editorial, 1990), pp. 318. Abridged Spanish translation of B19 by Jorge Vigil Rubio.


B19-1984(Editor) Occult and Scientific Mentalities in the Renaissance(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. xiv., 408. – Introduction, pp. 1–55.


B18-1982(Editor) Rhetoric Revalued. Papers from the International Society for the History of Rhetoric (Binghamton, NY: Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies, 1982), pp. 281. – Introduction, pp. 13–39.


B17-1979(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 6. 1774–1801 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), pp. 650.


B16-1979(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 5. 1765–1774 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979), pp. xvi, 569.


B15-1978Francis Bacon (London: Longman, 1978), pp. 46; repr. in British Writers ed. I. Scott-Kilvert, Vol. 1 (New York: Scribner’s, 1979), pp. 257–74.


B14-1976Shakespeare’s Coriolanus (London: Edward Arnold, 1976), pp. 68. (“Studies in English Literature” series).


B13-1976(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 4. 1753–1765 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1976), pp. xiv, 583.


B12-1976(Editor) Hooker: The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. An Abridged Edition. Co-editor: A.S. McGrade (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1976), pp. 413. Introduction 2: “Hooker’s Prose Style”, pp. 41–59.


B11-1975(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 3. 1733–1752 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1975), pp. xii, 487.


B10-1974(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 2. 1693–1733 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974), pp. xi, 549.


B9-1974(Editor) Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage. Volume 1. 1623–1692 (London and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1974), pp. xi, 448.


B8-1973Towards Greek Tragedy (London: Longman, 1973), pp. xvi, 658; repr. 1979.


B7-1970Classical Rhetoric in English Poetry (London: Macmillan, 1970), pp. 180.

‘Brian Vickers has an enviable trick of making his subject fascinating and readable. The eagerness and conviction of his style has been a feature of all his books so far, and this one does not fall short in this respect. Like The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose and Francis Bacon and Renaissance Prose, it opens side-questions, hints at the writer’s inadequacy to deal with certain matters and invites the reader to fill the gaps, and promises more goods to come. The reader’s expectations are thus constantly alerted, and if some remain unfulfilled by the present book, the recompense of others which are, is great. …
The first chapter, “A concise history of rhetoric”, manages, in short space, to do well something which no writer has hitherto attempted: to give a broad and informed view of the whole development of rhetoric as a literary discipline, from ancient Greece to the nineteenth century. Nowhere does his account falter or flag. …

The kernel of the book, however, is chapter 3, “The function of rhetorical figures”. Here, Dr. Vickers comes to the point of his argument, which is that “the figures contain within themselves a whole series of emotional and psychological effects” (p. 79). The thesis, that the tropes and figures of rhetoric are not at all “a nuisance, a quite sterile appendage to rhetoric” (p. 12) is persuasively argued.’

– Kirsty Cochrane, Review of English Studies, 1971

‘Brian Vickers has provided what has been missing all along, a just, even handed, and comprehensive treatment of this subject. …

Vickers manages neither to despise rhetoric nor to claim too much for it as an aid to our understanding. He is admirable aware of the twofold dangers in a mechanistic, too-technical approach to the interrelationship of rhetoric and poetry: that of losing sight of the poem and that of losing the interest of a large proportion of his readers. When he does bring his book to its natural climax in the final chapter, with rhetorical analyses of poetry by Sidney, Spenser, and Herbert, he is gentle to both poem and reader, even to the point of warning us that these “are samples and demonstrations, and suffer from the usual fault of demonstration pieces, that the points have probably been too myopically and laboriously spelled out.” …

If there is one central idea, and one fresh perspective which Vickers wishes to offer his reader, it is this “… that rhetorical figures are the conventional representation of verbal patterns expressed in states of extreme emotion” (p. 94). His argument in support of this contention is both persuasive and attractive. …

The scholar already familiar with current studies of rhetoric will still find the book a convenient addition to his library; the student looking for easy access to the field will find it a valuable tool indeed.’

– Russell M. Brown, Renaissance and Reformation 9, 1972


B6-1969(Editor) Seventeenth Century Prose: An Anthology (London: Longman, 1969), pp. 2


B5-1968(Editor) The World of Jonathan Swift (Oxford: Blackwell; Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press), pp. ix, 273. – Introduction, pp. 1–24.


B4a-1972(Editor) Essential Articles for the Study of Francis Bacon (London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1972), pp. xxiii, 323. – Introduction, pp. xi–xxiii.


B4-1968(Editor) Essential Articles for the Study of Francis Bacon (Hamden, CT: Archon Press, 1968), pp. xxiii, 323. English publication by Sidgwick & Jackson (London, 1972). – Introduction, pp. xi–xxiii.


B3b-2005The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose, Third Edition (London: Routledge, 2005), pp.vii, 452.


B3a-1979The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose. Revised Edition (London: Methuen, 1979), pp. x, 452.


B3-1968The Artistry of Shakespeare’s Prose (London: Methuen, 1968), pp. ix, 452.


B42-2012(Co-editor) The Collected Works of John Ford, Volume I, edited by Gilles Monsarrat, Brian Vickers, and R. J. C. Watt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), pp. xiv, 720. ISBN: 978-0-19-959290-6

‘The pieces collected in this volume, including the Elegy on John Fletcher and various commendatory poems edited by Vickers, were all circumstantial writings, whose specific occasions are convincingly clarified; at the same time, the editors have taken care to outline the deep coherence of Ford’s ideas, together with their progressive elaboration and the unevenness of their expression, sometimes firm and felicitous, sometimes lacking conceptual clarity and rigour. In that respect, this first volume of Ford’s Collected Works does not consist of independent editions bound together; it reads as the result of efficient teamwork, presenting the reader with the exciting reconstruction of a young writer’s formative years. …

The volume does not only provide accurate, careful, old-spelling editions based on fresh collation of existing manuscripts, known copies of early editions and previous modern editions; its substantial introductions are usefully complemented with clear commentaries elucidating archaic vocabulary as well as sources, analogues, and Ford’s unacknowledged translations and borrowings from classical authors. …

Two forthcoming volumes are announced. One will gather plays Ford wrote in collaboration with fellow dramatists, the other will collect Ford’s either sole-authored plays. When the whole set is completed, it will prove an invaluable reference work likely to give Fordian studies a fresh impetus and to provide scholars with a precious tool for a better understanding of the English literary scene between 1606 and 1638.’

– Yves Peyré, Cahiers Élisabéthains 81, 2012

‘Brian Vickers’s “Preface” to this, the first of three volumes that together will make up The Collected Works of John Ford, introduces the larger project with an overview of the editorial tradition, beginning with the single surviving copy of a volume from 1652, Comedies, Tragi-Comedies: & Tragœdies: written By John Ford, and following on the discontinuous history of fallings out and failings through Henry Weber’s edition of 1811, William Gifford’s of 1827, Dyce’s revision of Gifford in 1869, and into the twentieth century. Editor-in-chief of the new edition, and part also of its team of twelve collaborating co-editors, Vickers is well placed to survey, in sorrow if not in anger, what has been well or ill done by his predecessors …

In its making this edition prompts confidence from its users. Those sections of the text I have checked are accurate; the bibliographical descriptions in the “Introductions” are careful and full of detail …

Monsarrat, Vickers, and Watt’s undertaking demonstrates … that the first volume of Ford delivers a great deal, and, with the plays still to come in this new Collected Works, promises even more.’

– Tom Lockwood, The Library 7.14.3, 2013


B2-1968Francis Bacon and Renaissance Prose (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968), pp. xi, 316.



(Editor) Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987); reprint with corrections and bibliographical additions, pp. xxx, 137.


B1-1967(Editor) Henry Mackenzie, The Man of Feeling (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1967), pp. xxx, 137 (“Oxford English Novels” series).