John Fletcher, a highly successful playwright for the Jacobean theater, wrote more than 50 plays, both single-handedly and in collaboration with other playwrights. He was born in Rye, Sussex, the son of a minister. By 1596 his parents had died, leaving behind debts and nine children.
John Fletcher was known for his tragicomedies, and his plays were performed at royal court. Between 1615 and 1642, approximately 40 of the plays the Kings Company performed were attributed to John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont. Their collaborations include the plays Philaster (staged 1609), A King and No King (staged 1611), and The Scornful Lady (staged 1615). Fletcher also collaborated with Shakespeare on The Two Noble Kinsmen (staged around 1613) and Henry VIII (staged 1613). Fletcher’s own work includes The Faithful Shepherdess (staged 1608), which he identified as a “pastoral tragicomedy,” and The Wild Goose Chase (staged around 1612).
Authorship is difficult to identify in the collaborations; Fletcher also wrote plays with Philip Massinger. The two may have worked with two other authors to pen the tragedy The Bloody Brother (produced around 1621), also referred to as Rollo Duke of Normandy, which includes the poem “Take o take those lips away,” a variation of a poem from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure; the poem may have been added to a late version of the play.
Fletcher died in London during the plague epidemic.
POET’S REGION England
SCHOOL / PERIOD Renaissance
LIFE SPAN 1579–1625