Biography (Critical Survey of Drama, Second Revised Edition)
Francis Beaumont’s life varied significantly from that of the stereotypical Elizabethan playwright, who emerged from the trade class, worked his way through Oxford or Cambridge, and struggled for an insecure living by writing for the stage, the press, and occasional patrons. As the son of a wealthy Leicestershire judge descended from the Norman nobility, Beaumont seems not to have pursued either his education or his writing out of burning ambition or necessity. Entering Broadgates Hall (later Pembroke College), Oxford, at age twelve, Beaumont left a year later, on the death of his father, and never returned to the university. He turned instead to the family profession, law, being admitted to the Inner Temple in 1600, but, again, he did not complete his studies.
During this time, Beaumont became one of the habitués of the London literary scene, befriending such luminaries as Michael Drayton and Ben Jonson. Drayton called Beaumont and his brother John, a poet, “My deare companions whom I freely chose/ My bosome friends,” while the first quarto of Jonson’s Volpone (pr. 1606) includes commendatory verses by one “F. B.,” probably Beaumont. The playwright’s famous association with fellow dramatist John Fletcher began in these years also, with the first of their collaborations occurring about 1606. A bishop’s son, Fletcher shared with Beaumont an aristocratic heritage and Bohemian tastes. According to contemporary chronicler John...
(The entire section is 367 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of this article. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!
Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: The Renaissance)
Both Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher were products of the English upper class. The background of Beaumont, who was born in about 1584, was even more aristocratic. As a member of an old Anglo-Norman family, Beaumont was related by blood or marriage to a large portion of the English aristocracy. Many of these aristocratic connections came through his mother, Anne Pierrepoint. His father, a Court of Common Pleas judge and owner of Grace-Dieu Manor, was also named Francis. Francis the playwright was the third son of four children. The families of both Beaumont and Fletcher had a number of poets, including Beaumont’s older brother John and Fletcher’s younger first cousins, the Spenserian poets Phineas and Giles Fletcher.
Thus, the social circle—educated, urbane, and artistic—in which they were reared gave Beaumont and Fletcher a running start as Renaissance playwrights. They grew up with clever, informed talk and, unlike fellow playwright William Shakespeare, did not have to imagine how the upper classes who populated Renaissance drama lived. Their educations were rounded off at Cambridge and Oxford and at the London Inns of Court, England’s law school but also a center of literary and dramatic activity. Beaumont entered Broadgates Hall (now Pembroke College), Oxford, in...
(The entire section is 2033 words.)
Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Ben Jonson is said to have submitted all of his plays to Francis Beaumont (BOH-muhnt) for his advice before producing them, and John Dryden’s mouthpiece Neander in Of Dramatic Poesie: An Essay (1668) thought that Beaumont’s plays were more perfect than William Shakespeare’s. The third poet to be buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey, preceded only by Geoffrey Chaucer and Edmund Spenser, Beaumont was one of four children born to Judge Francis Beaumont and Anne Pierrepont Beaumont, a family closely related to the earls of Huntingdon. Educated at Oxford until 1598, Francis Beaumont followed in his father’s footsteps, as well as those of his brothers, and entered the Inner Temple in 1600. While there, he discovered a talent for poetry, in 1602 publishing Salmacis and Hermaphroditus, a mythological poem in the vein of Christopher Marlowe’s Hero and Leander (1598).
In 1606, Beaumont, then twenty-one and independent of family support, began to write professionally, possibly because he had to make a living. From 1606 until 1612, he and John Fletcher composed approximately thirteen plays, either in collaboration or separately. These plays were written at first for the children’s theaters and then for the King’s Men at the Blackfriars Theater and the Globe. Beaumont’s association with Fletcher was not purely...
(The entire section is 780 words.)