(1505–56). Dramatist. Udall was educated at Winchester and Corpus Christi
College, Oxford, took up teaching, and became headmaster of Eton and, at the end of his life, at Westminster. Like most Tudor
pedagogues he was reputed a heavy flogger. His sympathies were with Lutheran reform and he prospered during the reign of Edward VI but managed to survive in that of Mary. Udall translated from the classics and wrote Latin plays, but is remembered as the author of the earliest known English comedy, Ralph Roister Doister
, an imitation of Plautus
, performed about 1552. The subject-matter is the wooing of a widow by Roister, a simple-minded braggart who comes to grief, and must have owed its popularity to the opportunities it presented for knockabout humour.
J. A. Cannon
Nicholas Udall, 1505–56, English dramatist, educated at Oxford. He was headmaster of Eton (1534–41) and of Westminster School (from 1554). His one extant play, Ralph Roister Doister (c.1545), is regarded as the first complete English comedy. The influence of Plautus and Terence is evident, but the play is distinguished by its elements of native English humor.