Little is known about his life, but he is believed to have trained as a lawyer. The first trace of him as a playwright is in 1602. He collaborated on several plays with Thomas Dekker, but his two best-known works are attributed to him as sole author. These are the tragedies, The Duchess of Malfi and The White Devil.
Webster's work, unlike that of Shakespeare, is dark, brooding and bloodthirsty, with minimal attempt to draw the audience's sympathy.