Massinger is a prolific dramatist who wrote, or had a hand in, more than 50 plays. His specialty was tragicomedy, in which he imitated John Fletcher. His best-known play is "A New Way to Pay Old Debts" (1621), based on Middleton's "A Trick to Catch the Old One." Sir Giles Overreach reflects the historical Sir Giles Mompesson, a notorious capitalist and extortionist, who was tried in 1621. There is a good deal of snobbery in Massinger's play, and the class hatred of Sir Giles is frenzied and passionate. "A New Way to Pay Old Debts" has had an active theatrical history from its own day to the present, especially as a vehicle for the grandly histrionic role of Overreach.
Daniel Vitkus is assistant professor of English at Florida State University. He is the editor of Three Turk Plays from Early Modern England(Columbia, 2000).