The team of Francis Beaumont (1584-1616) and John Fletcher (1579-1625) wrote some of the most popular dramas of Elizabethan England. Beaumont and Fletcher began to work together in about 1606 and continued their partnership until Beaumont's retirement in 1613. Beaumont apparently was the primary plotter of their plays, while Fletcher had a strong flair for language. Their comedies and tragedies include The Woman Hater, The Coxcomb, A Maid's Tragedy, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, Wit Without Money, and Philaster, Or Love Lies A Bleeding. Fletcher wrote several plays alone as well, such as the comedy The Wild Goose Chase (1621) and the tragedy Bonduca (1614). Cardenio, or the Second Maiden's Tragedy, and Two Noble Kinsmen are attributed to Fletcher, although there has been some speculation he collaborated on these with Shakespeare. Beaumont and Fletcher's work is energetic, full of stage thrills, declamatory speeches and bizarre plots. Though it is not as rich and unified as that of some of their contemporaries including Shakespeare and Webster, it influenced the development of Restoration comedy and tragedy, and thus played an important role in the history of drama.
Clare McManus is Professor of Early Modern Literature and Theatre at the University of Roehampton