Not very much is known about Thomas Heywood’s early life but it is believed that he was born in Lincolnshire some time between 1570 and 1575 and that he may have been educated at Cambridge University. He moved to London at some stage, as the first mention of his career is when he was paid for a play performed by a London-based acting company, the Admiral’s Men, in 1596 which he subsequently joined as an actor. He later acted for several other companies.
He was a prolific playwright and his best known plays are his domestic comedies and tragedies, the best of which are generally regarded to be his tragedy, A Woman Killed by Kindness (1603), his comedy, A Maidenhead Well Lost and a historical play based on Elizabeth I, If You Know Not Me, You Know Nobody. He also wrote a number of serious prose works including An Apology for Actors, Gynaikon or Nine Books of Various History Concerning Women and The Life of Merlin, a rather fanciful history of the kings of England. His masque, a festive courtly entertainment, was apparently well liked by Charles I and his wife.
Although principally a playwright, Heywood wrote several poems, the best known of which are The Message, Love’s Good Morrow, Shepherd’s Song and Ye Little Birds that Sit and Sing. He died in London in 1641.