Beggars Bush: A Perambulation through the Disciplines of History, Geography, Archaeology, Literature, Philology, Natural History, Botany, Biography & Beggary

John Fletcher

John Fletcher (1579-1625) was born in Rye, Sussex, and came from a staunchly Protestant family including many clergymen. He is connected with Sussex, where there are many early Beggars Bush place names and the phrase was known to be in use. He can also be assumed to have encountered the Huntingdon Beggars Bush site, or Saxton’s Five Counties Map through studying at Cambridge, his father’s appointments, or his patrons.His father, Richard Fletcher, supported by Archbishop Parker, embarked on a period of rapid advancement, using his good looks, his ability as a preacher and courtly manners to impress Queen Elizabeth. After being appointed one the Queen’s Chaplains he became Dean of Peterborough in 1583, a Prebendary of Lincoln Cathedral, Rector of Barnack, Northamptonshire, and held the living of Algarkirk in Lincolnshire, before being appointed Bishop of Bristol in 1589. A strong Protestant he preached before the trial of Mary Queen of Scots and at her execution. He is reputed to have spent more time at Court and at his house in Chelsea than in any of his ecclesiastical appointments, and died in disfavour and debt in 1596.

John Fletcher was educated at Cambridge, and after his father’s death under the care of his uncle, who lived in London. He is connected with Ben Jonson before writing his first play in 1606. This was written with Francis Beaumont, and most of his 50 or so plays were the product of collaborations with other writers. His patrons were the Earl and Countess of Huntingdon, to whom Beaumont was related, and Fletcher knew them well enough to refer to the name of their cook at Ashby-de-la-Zouch.

He took over from Shakespeare as the author for the King’s Men after 1613. After Francis Beaumont’s marriage, illness and death Fletcher wrote plays with Philip Massinger.

John Aubrey reports that in August 1625 when others were leaving London, “He stayd but to make himselfe a suite of Cloathes, and while it was making, fell sick of the plague and dyed”.

Posted: May 15th, 2011 | Filed under: The Play | Tags: , , , | No Comments »

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