FLETCHER AND SHAKESPEARE
THE association of dramatist with dramatist and the interaction between different authors, different groups of plays, prominently characterise the theatrical world of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The practice of collaboration is brought home to us in the pages of Henslowe and in other contemporary records, and it achieves its most formal enunciation, on title-page and in prefatory address, in the Beaumont and Fletcher Folio of 1647. The ways in which a dramatist can influence and be influenced are strikingly, and at an early date, evident from the career of Marlowe: the success of Tamburlaine set its seal upon many plays of the immediately following years, including Shakespeare Richard III, and, on the other hand, we have come to see that in Edward II he built on the foundation that the Henry VI plays excitingly furnished. At the turn of the century, the War of the Theatres produced a small body of work by different dramatists, each play overtly reacting to its immediate predecessor. It is my concern in this concluding chapter to consider the possibilities of both collaboration and reciprocal influence between Shakespeare and Fletcher. In discussing the matter of influence I shall, as earlier in this study, at times use the convenient short- hand-term ' Fletcher' in relation to plays that he wrote in conjunction with Beaumont.
It was about the time that Shakespeare was writing