Shirley, JAMES (1596-1666), dramatist, was born in London and educated at Merchant Taylors' School, and St. John's College, Oxford, whence he removed to Catherine Hall, Cambridge. Having resigned his living in consequence of his conversion to the Roman Catholic religion, he became a master at St. Albans grammar school, but, finding the occupation distasteful, he in 1624 established himself in London as a playwright. After the closing of the theatres by the Puritans (1642) he again earned his living by teaching. His plays reappeared on the stage after the Restoration, but he did not produce any new ones. Lamb calls Shirley "the last of a great race " - i.e. the Elizabethan dramatists. His works display the same characteristics as those of his predecessors, but much that in them is the product of original genius must, in his case, be attributed to mere stagecraft.