This article investigates John Ford’s use of mixed temporality to stage succession in Perkin Warbeck. Although Perkin aspires to be planted in his “own inheritance” and ascend to the throne, Ford’s play first entertains and then dismisses the aspirations of this pretender. I argue that Ford’s pretender plot is equally about the past and the future. The play represents both history as it unfolded and the possible counterfactual projected by Perkin’s desired succession. I show that Ford’s Perkin Warbeck, instead of revealing the limits of the history play, celebrates the affordances of the genre. These brief, dramatized chronicles bring pasts, presents, and futures to life on the stage.


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