John Fletcher



The Works of Beaumont and Fletcher, ed. Alexander Dyce, 11 vols (London, 1843-6).


Autograph Manuscripts

There is a single known manuscript containing John Fletcher's handwriting: his verse epistle to the Countess of Huntingdon (*FlJ 8), first published in 1929. The manuscript was then regarded as entirely autograph but is now considered to be a scribal copy with a few autograph additions.

The Canon

With one exception, the remaining meagre canon of Fletcher's poems accepted here is based on Dyce (I, liii-liv; III, 453-6; XI, 517-18). A work added to Dyce's version of the canon is the song “Hither we come into this world of woe” (FlJ 1-6). The ascription of this song to J. Fletcher in Henry Lawes's Second Book of Ayres and Dialogues (1655) probably refers to John Fletcher, and is accepted as such in the Oxford English Madrigal Verse. A possible but less likely alternative author would be the religious poet Joseph Fletcher (1582?-1637).

Two other possible additions to the verse canon have been proposed in Charles Cathcart, ‘John Fletcher in 1600-1601: Two Early Poems, an Involvement in the “Poets' War”, and a Network of Literary Connections’, PQ, 81/1 (Winter 2002), 33-51. The two were published, subscribed ‘I. F.’, as commendatory poems in books by John Weever. One of them was copied in at least one manuscript miscellany (FlJ 7.5). The other, beginning ‘Methinks I heare some foule-mouth'd Momus say’, appears in Weever's Faunus and Melliflora (London, 1600), but is not hitherto recorded in any manuscript version.

Dramatic Works

For Fletcher's dramatic works, his principal claim to fame, see ‘Dramatic Works in the Traditional Beaumont and Fletcher Canon’, B&F 1-217).

Peter Beal