Shirley, James (Drama Criticism)
James Shirley 1596-1666
English dramatist and poet.
Shirley was the leading dramatist of the Caroline era, making his theatrical debut the same year that James I died and passed the throne to his son Charles. He wrote prolifically, producing comedies of wit and romantic tragedies with equal success. Especially in such comedies as Hyde Park (1632) and The Lady of Pleasure (1635), Shirley captured the essence of Caroline London and its social elite. Though some critics have found Shirley's work less original or intellectual than that of his great Elizabethan and Jacobean predecessors, his plays resonate with the turbulent times in which he wrote, addressing themes of social class, gender, marriage, tyranny, and liberty.
Shirley styled himself a gentleman, but the facts of his ancestral line remain obscure. Biographer Anthony Wood describes him as a descendent of a prominent family, and one of his students recalls him wearing a coat of arms, but no other details are available about his background. Shirley the playwright is assumed to be the James Shirley baptized September 7, 1596, in London, the son of James Shirley. As a youth he studied at the notable Merchant Taylor's school before either entering St. John's College, Oxford, or starting an apprenticeship as a scrivener in 1612. Here, too, the records are unclear, but Wood's account claims that while Shirley was at Oxford the master of the college, William Laud, discouraged him from preparing for the ministry because of a mole on his cheek. (Laud would later become the infamous Archbishop Laud, who is sometimes considered the basis of the title character in Shirley's The Cardinal.) If he did attend Oxford, he did not graduate, nor do records exist of his attendance. He did enroll in St. Catherine's College, Cambridge, where from 1615 to 1617 he pursued and earned his bachelor's degree. Shirley was ordained an Anglican priest in 1617 and may have pursued a master's degree for the next few years.
In 1618 Shirley married Elizabeth Gilmet and took a living in Wheathampstead, Lincolnshire; in 1619 the couple had a child. (Scholars further disagree on whether the first child was a son or daughter; in all, Shirley seems to have had three daughters, Marie, Grace, and Mary, and two sons, Mathias and Thomas.) In 1620 or 1621 Shirley changed careers, leaving his parsonage and taking a position as a teacher at a grammar school in nearby St. Albans. According to some biographers, the change was occasioned by Shirley's conversion to Catholicism, although others suggest that Shirley did not convert until after he had been at St. Albans for some time. (Even the fact of Shirley's conversion is not clearly documented, but is assumed by a majority of scholars.) After five years of teaching, Shirley again took an abrupt turn, moving his family to London and beginning to work as a playwright. His first play, the comedy Love Tricks, debuted in 1625, the same year that Charles I married his French Catholic queen, Henrietta Maria. Love Tricks was a success and Shirley became a dramatist for the Queen's Men at the Cockpit and Phoenix theaters. He followed his first comedic success with an attempt at tragedy, The Maid's Revenge (1626), which was equally well received and remained in the theater's repertory for more than a decade.
At some point between 1625 and 1627 Shirley established a residence at Gray's Inn, where he connected with a circle of writers including John Ford, Thomas May, William Habington, Phillip Massinger, and others. The friends wrote commendatory verses for the publication of each other's works and likely provided advice and help with courtier patrons—a requirement for a professional playwright. Shirley wrote occasional verses for the nobility and dedicated his plays to important figures at court in his search for patronage; his industriousness in doing so has led some scholars to see him as excessively eager for social advancement. And he did advance: in the 1630s he wrote several of his most successful comedies, including Hyde Park and The Lady of Pleasure, and in 1632 he accepted a post in the household of Queen Henrietta Maria, a significant mark of his preferment. Shirley's unique position in the royal household and the Inns of Court gave him an opportunity to write the libretto for one of the most opulent masques presented at court, The Triumph of Peace (1634). At this same time, however, Shirley's greatest rival for the status of court dramatist returned to London. William Davenant excelled at the art of winning the patronage of important court insiders and was more than willing to write to the tastes and whims of the court. For his part, Shirley became increasingly pointed in his satire of courtly excess in such works as The Ball (1632) and The Bird in a Cage (1632-33). By the time Shirley left London because of an outbreak of the plague, Davenant had succeeded him as a royal favorite.
Shirley went to Dublin in 1636, where he wrote for John Ogilby's theater. Among the plays he wrote during his four years in Dublin are the “Irish” plays St. Patrick for Ireland (1637-40) and The Doubtful Heir (1638), and the comedies The Gentleman of Venice (1639) and The Constant Maid (1637-40). Shirley received the final proof of his loss of preferment when Davenant was chosen to succeed Ben Jonson for the office of poet laureate in 1638. If this was a mark of a decline in his status at court, it was no reflection on Shirley's popularity as a playwright: verses of the time suggest that Shirley was generally considered more worthy of the title. Upon returning to London in 1640, Shirley became the chief playwright for the King's Men at Blackfriars, succeeding his former Gray's Inn compatriot, Massinger. The post was short-lived, owing to the closure of the theaters by the Puritans in 1642, but Shirley wrote one of his best tragedies for the company—The Cardinal (1641).
From 1642 to 1644 Shirley served the royalist cause fighting under the Earl of Newcastle. When Newcastle fled for the continent, Shirley returned to London. In 1646 Shirley resumed his teaching career at Whitefriars, where he was generally admired as an instructor. He published occasional poems and three grammar texts in addition to publishing his dramatic works, including the new works Cupid and Death (1653), a masque, and The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses for the Armor of Achilles (1658). Shirley's plays were among the first to be performed at the reopening of the theaters in 1660 (often altered to suit the tastes of the new age), but Shirley never wrote for the stage again. He continued teaching at Whitefriars until October 1666, when he and his second wife, Francis, were driven from their home by the Great Fire of London. Both died from exhaustion in the aftermath of the fire and were buried at Shirley's longtime parish church, St. Giles in the Fields.
Major Dramatic Works
Shirley was a terrifically prolific author who provided the Caroline theaters with a steady supply of reliable performance pieces. In the centuries since his death, however, his plays have been regarded as almost too well suited to his times, without strong interest for later audiences, readers, and scholars. Important exceptions are two of his city comedies, Hyde Park and The Lady of Pleasure, and his tragedy The Cardinal. Hyde Park is a complicated comedy tying together three separate love plots. The lovers Carol and Fairfield entertain with witty sparring that points toward the “gay couple” of early Restoration comedy. Other plots involve a widow on the last day of her mourning period and the surprise return of her husband, and a young woman whose fiancé plots to test the strength of her chastity by getting a notorious rake to seduce her.
For its intimate knowledge of the London elite at play, Hyde Park represents Shirley's own style of realism: an idealized version of a world that would be instantly recognizable to his aristocratic audiences, populated by characters who exhibit a high command of courtly manners and a few charming vices. A few years later, in The Lady of Pleasure, Shirley created a similar world, but with less emphasis on setting and more attention to manners and mores. Shirley is more satirical in the later play, taking aim at the extravagance and licentiousness of the upper classes, especially in the character of Lady Aretina Bornwell. Arriving in London, Lady Bornwell is quickly swept up in the thrill of flirtations and assignations, while her husband, Lord Bornwell, merely pretends to go along in order to eventually rein her in. In contrast to Lady Bornwell stands Celestina, a young widow determined to remain chaste who cleverly plays the game of courtship with several suitors but proves herself more than a match for any of them. In the final act, Lord Bornwell drives his wife to reform, while Celestina finds a pure and noble love with Lord A., after testing his honor by pretending to seduce him. The relationship between Celestina and Lord A. represents Shirley's caution to the court, for the high-flown love rhetoric the couple use mimics the language of Platonic love admired at court, especially by Queen Henrietta Maria.
One of Shirley's late plays, The Cardinal is often noted as the last of the Jacobean revenge tragedies, but it shows its Caroline origins as well. Where his earlier plays were bloodier, more macabre, and more baroque, Shirley's revenge tragedy uses plainer language. The title character is likely modeled on a contemporary villain, Shirley's old master Archbishop Laud, a wicked advisor to Charles I much like the Cardinal to the King of Navarre. Shirley may also have drawn inspiration from John Webster's popular tragedy The Duchess of Malfi (1614) for his own heroine, the duchess Rosaura. Rosaura, a widow, is betrothed to the nephew of the Cardinal, but secretly loves the Count d'Alvarez. Her efforts to extricate herself from a planned marriage eventually result in the murder of Alvarez. Rosaura feigns madness in order to advance her plans for revenge, but the Cardinal has also planned his revenge against her. He comes to her chamber to first rape and then poison her, but he hesitates after kissing her and falling in love with her. Rosaura calls for help, and Hernando, once a colonel in her betrothed's army, comes to save her, already incensed at the Cardinal for his political interference. At the denouement, the Cardinal, believing himself mortally wounded by Hernando, confesses his plan and warns Rosaura that she has been poisoned, offering an antidote and drinking a portion first to prove his honesty. Rosaura drinks, and the Cardinal reveals the extent of his malice: he has actually poisoned himself in order to kill her as well. The action of The Cardinal is familiar, but the themes of authority applied specifically to the late Caroline era, as the use and abuse of monarchical power became an increasingly tense issue.
When Shirley lost his court preferment, verses and broadsides proclaimed him the true poet laureate, and at the time of his death he was widely celebrated as a brilliant dramatist. Yet even in the early years of the Restoration, his plays did not do well at the theater. Samuel Pepys, the diarist who logged his frequent visits to the theater, disliked several of the productions he saw, and Restoration poet laureate John Dryden named Shirley one in the line of dullards satirized in MacFlecknoe (1682). In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, Shirley suffered from his position as the last Renaissance dramatist writing at the end of a period generally seen as the decline of English drama before the close of the theaters. Like his contemporaries Ford, Massinger, and others, he was an inferior to Shakespeare and a scribe for a period marked by decadence and excess. Modern critics often characterize Shirley as a transitional figure who reuses the familiar tropes of earlier playwrights like Shakespeare and Jonson, but also hinting at the Restoration comedy of manners. Robert Forsythe, writing in the early twentieth century, describes the theatrical scene of Shirley's day as highly static, with little room for innovation. Forsythe credits Shirley with a talent for reshaping and combining old materials in a new way, answering the common criticism that Shirley's work is competent but derivative and unoriginal. Arthur Nason reaches a similar conclusion, describing Shirley as combining the methods and materials of Shakespeare, Jonson, and Fletcher to produce both realistic and romantic plays. After centuries spent in the valley between two dramatic golden ages, the playwright has benefited from more recent focus on the specific circumstances of the Caroline era. In that light, scholars have noted Shirley's ability to write for his audience, to please an elite coterie, and to critique the society he nevertheless dramatizes sympathetically. A pioneering study in this area is Stephen Orgel's The Illusion of Power, which discussed the close relationship between monarchical power and theatrical performance, including Shirley's masque The Triumph of Peace. Since Orgel's book, several critics have examined The Triumph of Peace in the context of the court of Charles I, including Shirley's French biographer George Bas and theater scholar Martin Butler. Butler also led the way in drawing attention to the political context of Caroline drama with the 1984 study Theatre and Crisis, which similarly shed new light on Shirley's plays. Even in the comedies, Butler emphasizes the political implications of Shirley's repeated motifs of liberty, courtesy, and courtship. The work of Orgel, Butler, and other historically minded scholars has led a re-evaluation of Shirley as a successful dramatist in his own right.
Love Tricks 1625
The Brothers 1626
The Maid's Revenge 1626
The Wedding 1626-29
The Witty Fair One 1628
The Grateful Servant 1629
The Humorous Courtier 1631
Love's Cruelty 1631
The Traitor 1631
The Arcadia 1632
The Ball 1632
Changes, or Love in a Maze 1632
Hyde Park 1632
The Bird in a Cage 1632-33
The Gamester 1633
The Young Admiral 1633...
(The entire section is 203 words.)
Robert S. Forsythe (essay date 1914)
SOURCE: Forsythe, Robert S. “The General Characteristics of Shirley's Plays.” In The Relations of Shirley's Plays to Elizabethan Drama, pp. 48-63. New York: Columbia University Press, 1914.
[In the following excerpt, Forsythe enumerates the dominant characteristics of Shirley's works, describing him as a courtly playwright concerned with moral justice. He also notes that Shirley was an innovative adaptor writing at a time when dramatic conventions were deeply entrenched.]
In the words of the author of the excellent article upon the Gifford-Dyce edition of Shirley in The Quarterly Review, XLIX, 14:
“When Shirley came on the stage, he might seem...
(The entire section is 4754 words.)
Richard Morton (essay date 1966)
SOURCE: Morton, Richard. “Deception and Social Dislocation: An Aspect of James Shirley's Drama.” Renaissance Drama, 9 (1966): 227-45.
[In the following essay, Morton contends that scholarly interpretations of Shirley's plays have been limited by the tendency to focus on the playwright as a transitional figure between the Renaissance and the Restoration. Morton examines Shirley's use of deception or trickery—especially disguise and mistaken identity—in several plays, finding that this plot motif successfully dramatizes particular social issues of the Caroline era.]
The temptation to classify minor literary figures as transitional can hardly be resisted in the...
(The entire section is 6264 words.)
Martin Butler (essay date 1984)
SOURCE: Butler, Martin. “City Comedies: Courtiers and Gentlemen.” In Theatre and Crisis, 1632-1642, pp. 141-80. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984.
[In the following excerpt, Butler examines the relationship between class and politics in Shirley's comedies, particularly as illustrated through the world of manners, drawing a close connection between the courtship behavior of Shirley's lovers and tensions in the Caroline court.]
TOWN AND COUNTRY
In his intelligent and complex play [The Weeding of Covent Garden], Brome finds in Covent Garden, the symbol of the new permanent gentry presence (and crossness) in London, an occasion...
(The entire section is 8947 words.)
Sandra A. Burner (essay date 1988)
SOURCE: Burner, Sandra A. “The Gray's Inn Circle and the Professional Dramatists.” In James Shirley: A Study of Literary Coteries and Patronage in Seventeenth-Century England, pp. 41-84. Lanham, Md: University Press of America, 1988.
[In the following excerpt, Burner discusses the relationship between theater and audience in the development of new plays, noting that Shirley was among a select coterie of playwrights writing for private theaters and upper-class audiences.]
The interrelationships among the people who comprised the Gray's Inn circle are apparent through the verses written for members who published within the group—poetry, drama, essays. Within this...
(The entire section is 9728 words.)
Ira Clark (essay date 1992)
SOURCE: Clark, Ira. “Shirley's Social Comedy of Adaptation to Degree.” In Professional Playwrights: Massinger, Ford, Shirley, and Brome, pp. 112-54. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992.
[In the following excerpt, Clark portrays Shirley as socially ambitious and loyal to Charles I, absolute monarchy, and class hierarchy.]
SHIRLEY'S REVERENCE FOR DEGREE
“I never affected the ways of flattery: some say I have lost my preferment, by not practising that Court sin.”1 So claimed Shirley in 1639, finally dedicating his second play and first tragedy, The Maid's Revenge (1626), “come late to the...
(The entire section is 10021 words.)
Criticism: Hyde Park (1632)
Michael Billington (review date 17 April 1987)
SOURCE: Billington, Michael. “The Bright Side of the Park.” The Guardian (Manchester) (17 April 1987): 16.
[In the following review, Billington explores director Barry Kyle's production of Hyde Park at the Swan Theatre as a successful evocation of several literary periods: the Edwardian era of the Bloomsbury group, the witty Restoration, and the class-conscious Caroline age.]
Barry Kyle's delightful production of James Shirley's Hyde Park at Stratford's Swan Theatre proves several things. One is that there is pleasure to be had from discovering a neglected work that is a fascinating social document rather than a blazing masterpiece. Another is that...
(The entire section is 710 words.)
Lois Potter (review date 1 May 1987)
SOURCE: Potter, Lois. “Caroline Courtships.” Times Literary Supplement (1 May 1987): 464.
[In the following review, Potter finds Shirley's Hyde Park banal and overly slight, despite fine performances by the actresses in the three lead female roles.]
A play written for the spring opening of Hyde Park in 1632—comedy of manners with a dash of local colour—must have seemed an appropriate opening too for the new season at the Swan. But Shirley's play Hyde Park poses more problems than one might expect. It isn't very funny. Nor, though written in verse, is it poetic (Lord Bonvile's little aria, “Lady, you are welcome to the spring”, on which John...
(The entire section is 793 words.)
Edwin Wilson (review date 13 July 1987)
Wilson, Edwin. “Shirley and Shakespeare.” The Wall Street Journal (13 July 1987): 20.
[In the following review, Wilson admires the Swan Theatre production of Hyde Park for its intimate character and for its resurrection of a lost comedy of manners.]
James Shirley, a 17th-century British dramatist whom no one except English professors ever heard of, would continue to be unknown, and certainly unproduced, were it not for the policy of the Swan Theater, the new venture of the Royal Shakespeare Company here in Stratford. The theater, one of the most attractive to open in recent memory, is dedicated to presenting not only rarely produced Shakespearean plays, but...
(The entire section is 596 words.)
Richard Levin (essay date 1967)
SOURCE: Levin, Richard. “The Triple Plot of Hyde Park.” Modern Language Review 62 (1967): 17-27.
[In the following essay, Levin emphasizes the importance of interpreting the action of Hyde Park as a unified play rather than as three disconnected plots.]
Shirley's Hyde Park is one of the best known and most widely admired of that interesting group of plays, usually classified as his ‘realistic comedies’ or ‘comedies of manners’, produced in the five year period preceding his departure for Ireland; in fact, many students of the Caroline stage have ranked it second only to The Lady of Pleasure, which is regarded as his greatest...
(The entire section is 6703 words.)
Sophie Eliza Tomlinson (essay date 1999)
SOURCE: Tomlinson, Sophie Eliza. “Too Theatrical? Female Subjectivity in Caroline and Interregnum Drama.” Women's Writing 6, no. 1 (1999): 65-79.
[In the following essay, Tomlinson compares Shirley's Hyde Park to a play written by aristocratic women to illuminate the issue of female subjectivity. She finds in Shirley's female characters a developing assertion of the female self and feminine will.]
One of the funniest and most affecting moments in Emma Thompson's screen adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility (1995) occurs when Thompson, as Elinor Dashwood, bursts into what the novel describes as “tears of joy” on hearing from Edward...
(The entire section is 6988 words.)
Criticism: The Triumph Of Peace (1632)
Stephen Orgel (essay date 1975)
SOURCE: Orgel, Stephen. “The Role of King.” In The Illusion of Power: Political Theater in the English Renaissance, pp. 59-87. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975.
[In the following essay, Orgel interprets Jacobean and Caroline masques as a mirror reflecting the crown as it wanted to be seen. He asserts that for Charles I the masque was an expression of the strength of his royal will—even when, as in Shirley's The Triumph of Peace, it attempted to correct or advise the monarch.]
Hostile critics saw in the royal histrionics only frivolity or hypocrisy, and even sympathic observers regularly referred to masques as “vanities.” This, indeed, is...
(The entire section is 4652 words.)
Martin Butler (essay date July 1987)
SOURCE: Butler, Martin. “Politics and the Masque: The Triumph of Peace.” The Seventeenth Century 2, no. 2 (July 1987): 117-41.
[In the following essay, Butler challenges the notion that Caroline masques were merely dramatic spectacles, arguing instead that court masques were one aspect of Charles I's government by consensus. Focusing on Shirley's Triumph of Peace, Butler analyzes how the production of a masque can generate multiple political meanings.]
Recent years have seen much important and suggestive work on the court masque under the early Stuarts. The conditions that generated the masque have been fully documented and, especially, the function...
(The entire section is 11861 words.)
C. E. McGee (essay date 1991)
SOURCE: McGee, C. E. “‘Strangest consequence from remotest cause’: The Second Performance of The Triumph of Peace.” Medieval and Renaissance Drama in England 5 (1991): 309-19.
[In the following essay, McGee discusses the political and financial details of a performance of The Triumph of Peace produced by the City of London, noting that it reflects and illuminates tense relations between Charles I and the city.]
From Enid Welsford's The Court Masque (1927) to David Lindley and R. L. Smallwood's The Court Masque (1984), critics of the masque have worked, as many masquers danced and claimed they lived, within the sphere of the...
(The entire section is 5300 words.)
Criticism: The Lady Of Pleasure (1635)
George F. Sensabaugh (essay date 1952)
SOURCE: Sensabaugh, George F. “Platonic Love in Shirley's The Lady of Pleasure.” In A Tribute to George Coffin Taylor: Studies and Essays, Chiefly Elizabethan, edited by Arnold Williams, pp. 168-77. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1952.
[In the following essay, Sensabaugh discusses The Lady of Pleasure in light of the courtly cult of platonic love popularized by Queen Henrietta Maria. Tracing the theme of platonic love in the relationship between Lord A and Celestina, Sensabaugh suggests that Shirley portrayed the platonic lovers sympathetically as part of his bid for advancement at court.]
James Shirley, in The Lady of...
(The entire section is 3285 words.)
Ronald Huebert (essay date 1981)
SOURCE: Huebert, Ronald. “The Staging of Shirley's The Lady of Pleasure.” In The Elizabethan Theatre IX, edited by G. R. Hibbard, pp. 41-59. Port Credit, Ontario, Canada: P. D. Meany, 1981.
[In the following essay, Huebert constructs a version of the original production of The Lady of Pleasure, including blocking, casting, and set design. In doing so, he highlights Shirley's use of stagecraft to support the action and dialogue of the play.]
The first performance of The Lady of Pleasure took place in late October or early November, 1635. The play was licensed for performance on 15 October,1 and by 5 or 6 November it had attracted...
(The entire section is 7986 words.)
Ronald Huebert (essay date 1986)
SOURCE: Huebert, Ronald. Introduction to The Lady of Pleasure, by James Shirley, pp. 1-49. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986.
[In the following excerpt, Huebert characterizes The Lady of Pleasure as a dramatization of decadence, regarding which Shirley's own stance is unclear.]
The first reader of The Lady of Pleasure to have recorded a critical response to the play is Abraham Wright, who at some time near the middle of the seventeenth century made the following notation in his commonplace book:
Ye best play of Shirleys for ye lines, but ye plot is as much as none....
(The entire section is 8482 words.)
Criticism: The Cardinal (1641)
Arthur Huntington Nason (essay date 1915)
SOURCE: Nason, Arthur Huntington. “The Cardinal.” In James Shirley, Dramatist, pp. 344-61. New York: Arthur H. Nason, 1915.
[In the following excerpt, Shirley's early twentieth-century biographer, Arthur Nason describes The Cardinal as a romantic tragedy and one of the playwright's best works, noting especially the strength of Shirley's character development, particularly in the female lead role.]
Foremost among the later plays of Shirley, and among the greatest that Shirley ever wrote, is The Cardinal, licensed November 25, 1641. In plot, this romantic tragedy is a struggle between the duchess Rosaura on the one hand and the cardinal on the other:...
(The entire section is 3878 words.)
Catherine Belsey (essay date 1981)
SOURCE: Belsey, Catherine. “Tragedy, Justice, and the Subject.” In 1642: Literature and Power in the Seventeenth Century, edited by Francis Barker, pp. 166-86. Colchester, England: Department of Literature, University of Essex, 1981.
[In the following essay, Belsey examines The Cardinal in the contexts of Renaissance revenge tragedy and changing perceptions of political authority.]
Shirley's tragedy, The Cardinal, was performed by the King's Men in 1641. The Cardinal is the revenge play to end all revenge plays (literally, I want to argue). Most obviously, it combines motifs from Hamlet, The Spanish Tragedy, The...
(The entire section is 6935 words.)
Ben Lucow (essay date 1981)
SOURCE: Lucow, Ben. “‘Seeds of Honour’: The Lady of Pleasure and The Cardinal.” In James Shirley, pp. 123-36. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1981.
[In the following excerpt, Lucow downplays topical analyses of The Cardinal and instead emphasizes its debt to the revenge-tragedy tradition. Lucow contends that although Shirley considered The Cardinal his best play, it fails to rise to the quality of his best comedies.]
Some of the scholarly interest in The Cardinal arises from its supposed historical and biographical parallels. Shirley's cryptic Prologue does suggest (“keep your fancy active,” “Think what you please”) and...
(The entire section is 3204 words.)
E. M. Yearling (essay date 1986)
SOURCE: Yearling, E. M. Introduction to The Cardinal, by James Shirley, pp. 1-42. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1986.
[In the following excerpt, Yearling emphasizes Shirley's simple style in The Cardinal, but cautions against reading the play as a stripped-down revenge tragedy. Though Yearling discounts a strong connection to Archbishop Laud in the character of the Cardinal, she asserts that the key themes of the play are political.]
The sources suggested bear out R. S. Forsythe's description of Shirley as unoriginal in his materials but original in his organisation of those materials (p. 149). No play appears to be the single source of The...
(The entire section is 11878 words.)
Bas, George. “More about the Anonymous Tragedy of the Cruell Warre and James Shirley's The Triumph of Peace.” Cahiers Élisabéthans 17 (April 1980): 43-57.
Examines the anonymous pamphlet as an adaptation of Shirley's masque into anti-Cavalier, anti-Catholic propaganda
Cogan, Nathan. “James Shirley's The Example (1634): Some Reconsiderations.” SEL 17, no. 2 (spring 1977): 317-31.
Revisits The Example, deemed the best of Shirley's work by Victorian critics but generally ignored in the twentieth-century, and examines the play's place in the development of Shirley's city...
(The entire section is 656 words.)