Phineas Fletcher



The Poetical Works of Giles Fletcher and Phineas Fletcher, ed. Frederick S. Boas, 2 vols (Cambridge, 1908-9).


Venus and Anchises (Brittain's Ida) and other Poems by Phineas Fletcher, ed. Ethel Seaton (London, 1926).


Autograph Manuscripts and Inscriptions

Three important literary autographs of Phineas Fletcher survive, all copies of his Latin poem Locustae, vel pietas Jesuitica (FlP 4-6). In addition, various printed exempla of The Purple Island…together with Piscatorie Eclogs and other Poetical Miscellanies (Cambridge, 1633) are known to contain Fletcher's autograph inscriptions (FlP 22-26), usually with the Latin ‘Esse suj voluit Monumentu Pignus Amoris’. All these printed volumes have, or originally had, bindings stamped with the arms of the poet Edward Benlowes (1602-76), the dedicatee of the work.

An exemplum of the third edition in the British Library (C. 34. g. 33) has bound in at the beginning a leaf, evidently extracted from some other book, bearing the inscription ‘Ex dono Phineae ffletcheri authoris’ and, in a different hand, two lines in Latin subscribed ‘Phinees ffletcher’, but none of this writing is in Fletcher's hand (see Boas, I, xii; II, vii).

Further examples of Fletcher's handwriting are found in the entries made by him in the register of baptisms, burials, and marriages of All Saints Church, Hilgay, Norfolk (*FlP 27). Evidence of one other example, which survived at least until the eighteenth century, is provided by one ‘W. Thomson’ of The Queen's College, Oxford, who annotated an exemplum of The Purple Island (1633), now in the British Library (239.i.23 (1)). On page 3 of the Piscatorie Eclogs Thomson notes, ‘I have a Vol: of Latin Poems in 4to in the Authors own MS: dedicated [? to the Archbishop of Canterbury]’. Nothing more of this manuscript volume is known, however.

Manuscript Copies

Among other sources, there survive contemporary transcripts of Fletcher's academic play Sicelides (FlP 18-19). Important copies of early versions of Venus and Anchises (Brittain's Ida) and other poems are in a manuscript formerly at Sion College, London, and now in Lambeth Palace (FlP 2, FlP 8-11, FlP 13, FlP 16). This last manuscript was not known to Boas and it adds to his version of the canon one more poem, an Epithalamium (FlP 2). Other texts recorded in CELM (chiefly copies in a journal of 1657 compiled by one Thomas Grocer) probably derive from printed sources.

Peter Beal