Little is known for certain of Webster’s life, though certain educated guesses can be made. He was born around 1579, to John and Elizabeth Webster of the London parish of St Sepulchre’s. His father was a prosperous coach-maker and a member of a prestigious guild, the Company of Merchant Taylors. This comfortable middle-class background meant that young Webster would have encountered a wide cross-section of Elizabethan society as he grew up: his father must have provided carts for the prisons as well as coaches for the aristocracy, and served customers of every social stratum in between. Later in his career, Webster’s class background would be referred to in a satirical poem by Henry Fitzjeffrey, in which he was (somewhat sneeringly) described as ‘Crabbed Websterio / The Playwright Cartwright’ (Satyres and Satyricall Epigrams, 1617).
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