Playwright Francis Beaumont’s name is closely linked with that of John Fletcher. The two men collaborated on plays, working hard to feed the insatiable appetite the theatre-going public had for plays. Thirty-five plays, supposedly by the two, were published in a collection in 1647, and eighteen more in 1679. The two writers lived together in Bankside, near the theatres, and shared everything, even their bed and their clothes, for seven years. Then Beaumont married an heiress, Ursula Isley of Sundridge in Kent, and retired from the theatre. He died in London in 1616 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. It is now thought that they collaborated on only ten plays. Beaumont wrote some plays on his own (as did John Fletcher) but collaborated on many more with a variety of playwrights, particularly Philip Massenger.

Francis Beaumont was born in 1585 and died in 1616. His father was Francis Beaumont, justice of common pleas, of Grace-Dieu priory Leicestershire. Francis Jnr. entered Broadgates Hall, later to become Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1597. His father died in the following year and he left university and entered the Inner Temple in London but became increasingly involved in London’s literary culture and finally committed himself to writing plays.

One of the plays that Beaumont wrote on his own is the famous The Knight of the Burning Pestle, a parody of the sentimental and melodramatic plays that were popular at the time. Beaumont and Fletcher’s plays are lively and direct and almost modern in their language and ideas. Their most famous is Philaster, or Love Lies Bleeding

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