John Fletcher

John Fletcher

Rye, Rother District, East Sussex, England
Death c.28 Aug 1625 (aged 45)
Southwark, London Borough of Southwark, Greater London, England
Burial Southwark, London Borough of Southwark, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 12312 · View Source
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Playwright. He is best remembered as part of the English playwrighting team of Beaumont and Fletcher, famed for their tragicomedies, a hybrid genre they successfully revived on the Jacobean stage. Their work foreshadowed and influenced later Restoration drama. Among the dozen or so plays attributed to them are "The Woman Hater" (1606), "Philaster, or Love Lies a-Bleeding" (c. 1609), "The Maid's Tragedy" (c. 1609), "A King and No King" (1611), and "The Scornful Lady" (c. 1613). He probably also collaborated with Shakespeare on "The Two Noble Kinsmen (c. 1613) and "The Life of King Henry the Eighth" (1613). The delightful comedy "The Wild Goose Chase" (1621) is regarded as the best of his solo works. Fletcher was baptized on December 20, 1579 in Rye, Sussex. He was the son of Richard Fletcher, a prominent cleric who ended his career as Bishop of London and chaplain to Queen Elizabeth. From age 11 he attended Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, but when his father died debt-ridden in 1596 he apparently left without a degree. It is not known when he began writing for the London stage but by 1606 he was associated with the literary group who gathered at the Mermaid Tavern, including Ben Jonson and Shakespeare. Tradition has it that Jonson introduced Fletcher to Francis Beaumont. Unlike the commercial hackery of most theatrical collaborations of the time, their partnership was voluntary and built on close friendship. They shared a house near the theatres in Southwark, and the fairly wealthy Beaumont took Fletcher with him on vacations. "The Faithful Shepherdess" (c. 1608) was his first solo effort, and while it was unsuccessful in performance, its 1609 published edition contained Fletcher's pithy definition of tragicomedy: "A tragicomedy is not so called in respect of mirth and killing, but in respect it wants [lacks] deaths, which is enough to make it no tragedy, yet brings some near it, which is enough to make it no comedy...." The year 1613 saw the retirement of both Beaumont and Shakespeare and from then on Fletcher served as principal dramatist for the King's Men, England's foremost theatre company. He continued to work with other authors, among them Philip Massinger, Nathan Field and Samuel Rowley, while producing plays on his own. His personal life after Beaumont is obscure; he may have been the John Fletcher who married at St. Saviour's Church (now Southwark Cathedral) in 1612. According to a 1668 biographical sketch Fletcher remained in London during the plague epidemic of 1625, allegedly to get fitted for a new wardrobe, and died from the disease at 45. He was buried at St. Saviour's on August 29 of that year. In all he had a hand in some 50 plays. The first collected edition of the plays of Beaumont and Fletcher was published in 1647. They were popular through the mid-1700s and are frequently revived today.

Bio by: Bobb Edwards

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Added: 8 Sep 2000
  • Find a Grave Memorial 12312
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for John Fletcher (c.18 Dec 1579–c.28 Aug 1625), Find a Grave Memorial no. 12312, citing Southwark Cathedral, Southwark, London Borough of Southwark, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .