The Duchess of Malfi

In popular culture

  • Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie (Williams, Collins Sons & Co Ltd. 1976) uses the lines Cover her face; mine eyes dazzle; she died young as the novel's central refrain.
  • A fragment of Scene 2, Act 4 of the play, with Struan Rodger as Ferdinand and Donald Burton as Bosola, is shown in the 1987 BBC TV film version of Agatha Christie's detective novel Sleeping Murder.
  • Cover Her Face by P. D. James (initial copyright 1962) uses the first part of the quote as the title and as a comment made by the first witness on the scene of a young murdered woman.
  • The Skull Beneath the Skin by P. D. James centres around an aging actress who plans to perform The Duchess of Malfi in a Victorian castle theatre. The novel takes its title from T. S. Eliot's famous characterisation of Webster's work in his poem 'Whispers of Immortality'.
  • In the culmination of John le Carré's Call for the Dead, Smiley is reported to have been quoting from The Duchess of Malfi in his delirium – "I bade thee when I was distracted of my wits go kill my dearest friend, and thou hast done it", according to Peter Guillam.
  • Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice uses the lines Cover her face. Mine eyes dazzle. She died young, as a quote from Lestat to his vampire child, Claudia.
  • Stephen Fry's novel The Stars' Tennis Balls takes its title from Bosola's line in the play.
  • Hotel by Mike Figgis involves a film crew trying to make a Dogme film of The Duchess of Malfi. The actors playing the Duchess, Antonio and Bosola are played by Saffron Burrows, Max Beesley and Heathcote Williams. The play is abbreviated and made into a 'McMalfi' script by Heathcote Williams.
  • In the novel Too Many Clients by Rex Stout, a character that does not want to tell his name quotes Other sins only speak; murder shrieks out. The quotation allows Nero Wolfe to find him.
  • In the Oxford University Film Foundation's 1982 film Privileged, the students produce and rehearse lines from the play.
  • Echo & the Bunnymen mentioned this play along with John Webster and The White Devil in their song "My White Devil" on their Porcupine album.
  • Volume 2 of Anthony Powell's A Dance to the Music of Time includes a visit to a performance of the play, where the minor character Moreland is in love with the actress playing Julia.
  • In T. H. White's novel The Once and Future King (1958), the character Cully quotes from the play: "Why, but two nights since, one met the duke 'bout midnight in a lane behind Saint Mark's Church, with the leg of a man upon his shoulder: and he howled fearfully."[24]

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