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John Fletcher
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John Fletcher

John Fletcher was born December, 1579 (baptized December 20) in Rye, Sussex, and died in August 1625 (buried August 29 in St. Saviour's, Southwark.)

After William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, John Fletcher was the most gifted and influential of the Jacobean dramatists. In succession to Shakespeare, he became the chief dramatist for the leading company of London, the King's Men. Fletcher was not, as was Shakespeare, a shareholder in the company.

He became one of the eight people regularly under contract as writers for the various London theater companies from 1590 to 1642, along with Thomas Heywood, Thomas Dekker, Philip Massinger, Shakespeare, James Shirley, William Rowley, and Richard Brome.

His mastery is most notable in two dramatic types, tragicomedy and comedy of manners, both of which exerted a pervasive influence on dramatists in the reign of Charles I and during the Restoration.

His father, Richard, was an ambitious and successful cleric who was in turn dean of Peterborough, bishop of Bristol, bishop of Worcester, and bishop of London as well as chaplain to the queen. As dean of Peterborough it was Richard Fletcher who at the execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, at Fotheringay "knelt down on the scaffold steps and started to pray out loud and at length, in a prolonged and rhetorical style as though determined to force his way into the pages of history" and who cried out at her death, "So perish all the Queen's enemies!" John Fletcher was eight at the time.

Beyond the record of his plays the details of his life are scanty. Between 1609 and 1625, it is estimated that Fletcher was involved in the writing of forty-two plays. At least 21 of them have been shown to be collaborations including work of Francis Beaumont, Nathan Field, Shakespeare, Rowley, and Massinger. Only nine of Fletcher's plays were published in his lifetime.

Plays

(An exact chronology or even attribution of the plays is almost impossible. So popular were the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher that joint authorship was claimed for plays written singly or in collaboration with others.)

With others:

Written with Francis Beaumont: