Eastward Ho is a city comedy, collaboratively written by George Chapman, Ben Jonson, and John Marston. The play appears to have been written in response to Thomas Dekker and John Webster’s Westward Ho, which is referenced in the Prologue. Space and the navigation of the City of London play huge roles in this play, both thematically and spatially. Marston notes that “not only is the play heavy, as city comedies tend to be, with allusions to specific London places, but ‘[t]he meaning of Eastward Ho is inseparable from its setting: place functions both as protagonist and theme” (Cohen qutd. 61).
There is some debate about the date of the publication of this play. The confusion has arisen chiefly because Jonson and Chapman were imprisoned in the Tower of London by King James I, as a result of some offensive remarks about the Scottish that appeared in the earliest version of the play.It is unclear whether the play was performed before Chapman and Jonson were imprisoned, although it seems clear that there was a rush to print it once they had been arrested. We know that the play was entered into the Stationers Register on 4 September 1605 and was presumably printed not long after that; however, the printing was interrupted to remove the satire on the Scots (Van Fossen 5).
Eastward Ho was first performed at the Blackfriars Theatre by the Children of Her Majesty’s Revels in 1605.
A full digital version of the play-text is available here.