Peele belonged to the group of university scholars who, in Greene's phrase, "spent their wits in making playes." Greene went on to say that he was "in some things rarer, in nothing inferior," to Christopher Marlowe and Thomas Nashe. This praise was not unfounded. The credit given to Greene and Marlowe for the increased dignity of English dramatic diction, and for the new smoothness infused into blank verse, must certainly be shared by Peele. The most familiar parts of Peele's work are, however, the delightful songs in his plays—from The Old Wives' Tale and The Arraignment of Paris, and the song "A Farewell to Arms"—which are regularly anthologized.
Professor F. B. Gummere, in a critical essay prefixed to his edition of The Old Wives Tale, puts in another claim for Peele. In the contrast between the romantic story and the realistic dialogue he sees the first instance of humour quite foreign to the comic business of earlier comedy. The Old Wives Tale is a play within a play, slight enough to be perhaps better described as an interlude. Its background of rustic folklore gives it additional interest, and there is much fun poked at Gabriel Harvey and Richard Stanyhurst. Perhaps Huanebango, who parodies Harvey's hexameters, and actually quotes him on one occasion, may be regarded as representing that arch-enemy of Greene and his friends.
Peele's Works were edited by Alexander Dyce (1828, 1829–1839 and 1861), A. H. Bullen (2 vols., 1888), and by Charles Tyler Prouty (3 vols., 1952–1970). An examination of the metrical peculiarities of his work is to be found in Richard Lämmerhirt's Georg Peele, Untersuchungen über sein Leben und seine Werke (Rostock, 1882). See also Professor F.B. Gummere, in Representative English Comedies (1903); and an edition of The Battell of Alcazar, printed for the Malone Society in 1907.
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