Francis Beaumont

From Academic Kids

Francis Beaumont (15841616), was an English dramatist most famous for his collaborations with John Fletcher.

Beaumont was the son of Sir Francis Beaumont of Grace Dieu, Leicestershire, a justice of the common pleas. He was born at the family seat and was educated at Broadgates Hall (now Pembroke College) in Oxford at the age of 13. Following the death of his father in 1598, he left university without a degree and followed in his father's footsteps by entering the Inner Temple in London (1600).

Accounts suggest that however that Beaumont did not work for long as a lawyer. He became a student of poet Ben Jonson, being also acquainted with Drayton and other poets and dramatists, and decided that was where his passions lay. His first work, Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, appeared in 1602. The 1911 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica describes the work as "not on the whole discreditable to a lad of eighteen, fresh from the popular love-poems of Marlowe and Shakespeare, which it naturally exceeds in long-winded and fantastic diffusion of episodes and conceits". In 1607, Beaumont wrote the preface to a work of Jonson's.

Beaumont's collaboration with Fletcher probably began as early as 1605, but the pair truly became famous in 1608 with the writing and production of Philaster. They lived in the same house and had practically a community of goods until Beaumont's marriage in 1613 to Ursula, daughter and co-heiress of Henry Isley of Sundridge in Kent, by whom he had two daughters. Beaumont died in 1616 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. Although today Beaumont is remembered as a dramatist, during his lifetime he was celebrated as a poet.

Selected works

The true extent to which each play was written by Fletcher and by Beaumont is unknown (compare also the shared song-writing of John Lennon and Paul McCartney), and it's now generally agreed that others collaborated with them to some extent—Massinger, Rowley, Shirley, and even Shakespeare, though the following categorizations are generally agreed upon.

As regards their respective powers, Beaumont is held to have had the graver, solider, and more stately genius, while Fletcher excelled in brightness, wit, and gaiety. The former was the stronger in judgment, the latter in fancy. The plays contain many very beautiful lyrics, but are often stained by gross indelicacy.

Joint works with John Fletcher

The Scornful Lady (acted circa 1609, printed 1616)
Philaster or Love Lies a-Bleeding (c.1609, 1620)
The Maid's Tragedy (c. 1609, 1619),
A King and No King (December 26, 1611, 1619),
The Knight of the Burning Pestle (c. 1610, 1613),
Cupid's Revenge (January 1612, 1615)
The Coxcomb (c. 1610, 1647)
Wits at Several Weapons (1614)
Scornful Lady (1616), doubtfully
Thierry and Theodoret (1616)
Little French Lawyer (1620), perhaps by Fletcher and Massinger
Laws of Candy

Solely authored works

The Woman Hater (1607)
The Masque of the Inner Temple and Grays Inn (26th of February 1612)
Of Four Plays, or Moral Representations, in One (1608, 1647)
The Induction, with The Triumph of Honor
The Triumph of Love



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