THE PROBLEM OF APPROACH
'SURE, they can never die,' wrote Humphrey Moseley of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher in the year 1647. He was the publisher of the Folio volume printed in that year, containing such of their plays as had not been previously published,1 and he had good reason for confidence in his business venture and perhaps even in his prophetic enthusiasm. Beaumont had died in 1616 and Fletcher in 1625, but the plays that they wrote together and those, more numerous, that Fletcher had written alone or in collaboration with other playwrights, had formed a substantial part of the repertory until civil war came in 1642. When the Folio was published, it was a time of closed theatres and of puritan government: all the more probably would there be a good supply of readers who, through the printed page, might call back memories of performances they had seen. Only two other English dramatists--Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare--had hitherto received the honour of a Folio publication of their plays, and certainly there could have been no doubt in the minds of seventeenth-century playgoers and readers that the body of work associated with the names of Beaumont and Fletcher came next in rank to Jonson's and Shakespeare's. When the time of closed theatres was done, it was indeed these four playwrights whose work continued to hold the stage. Certainly in the opening years of____________________
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Publication information: Book title: The John Fletcher Plays. Contributors: Clifford Leech - Author. Publisher: Harvard University Press. Place of publication: Cambridge. Publication year: 1962. Page number: 1.
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