Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.

Beaumont Francis

Beaumont, Francis, the son of a judge of the Court of Common Pleas, was born in 1584, and educated at Oxford. Nominally a member of the bar he took little interest in the profession, but sought the society of Ben Jonson, and the wits of the day, attaching himself most closely to John Fletcher, nine or ten years his senior, so that their two names are indissolubly bound together in the history of the English drama. Over fifty dramas and poems are attributed to their joint labours, but it has never been satisfactorily decided what share in the composition is to be assigned to each partner, the allocation of thirty-eight to their united efforts and eighteen to Fletcher alone being quite fanciful. Beaumont is generally credited with having the advantage in tragic and pathetic power, in the higher ranges of feeling and expression, and in the more solid elements of comedy; whilst to Fletcher are attributed brilliancy, fluency, quickness of invention, romanticism, levity, and graceful ease rather than strength. Philaster, produced in 1607, is believed to be the first of their joint works, and before Beaumont's death The Maid's Tragedy, King and No King, Bonduca, and The Lams of Candy appeared on the tragic stage, with the comedies entitled The Woman Hater, The Knight of the Burning Pestle, The Honest Man's Fortune, The Coxcomb, and The Captain. Of the three tragedies and nine comedies brought out by Fletcher after his colleague's death none possesses features that distinguish it from the earlier pieces. The Faithful Shepherdess, often regarded as his individual creation, reveals the qualities usually connected with the name of Beaumont. The feebler hand that cooperated with Shakespeare in the The Two Noble Kinsmen may perhaps have been Fletcher's, but Beaumont is linked with him on the title page of the first edition. The poetic pair seem to have lived together on strictly communistic principles until 1613, when Beaumont married. Three years later he died and was buried in Westminster Abbey. Fletcher, the son of a cleric, who from the living of Rye was promoted to the bishoprics of Bristol and of Worcester, was born in 1576. His father's death apparently left him in great straits, but he went to Cambridge, and had found a place among the frequenters of the Mermaid tavern when he fell in with Beaumont, whom he survived nearly ten years, dying of the plague in 1625. Their compound genius never rivalled Shakespeare in either branch of the drama, and even fell somewhat short of Webster and Marlow in tragedy, and of Jonson in comedy. Their writings exhibit the defects of youth in the absence of strong and persistent moral purpose, and are often marred by a coarseness and laxity unworthy of the Elizabethan age.