Mother Bombie is unique among Lyly's comedies in its urban setting and focus upon middle and lower class concerns. The play turns on the tissue of misconceptions surrounding the efforts of four fathers to secure socially advantageous marriages for their heirs, and the determination of their young servants to exploit their masters' misguided aspirations for their own advantage.
A theatrical success in its own day, the play is of particular interest to twenty-first century criticism for its focus upon those situated on the margins of the social group, notably Mother Bombie herself, thought by some to be a witch, and the two simpletons whose marital prospects lie at the heart of the action. The play is newly re-edited from the earliest witnesses, the quartos of 1594 and 1598, and incorporates the songs first published by Blount in his collected edition of Lyly's works in 1632 and is the first fully annotated, modern-spelling edition of the play to have appeared for over thirty years and its publication sees the completion of the works of John Lyly in The Revels Plays. -- .