One of the Great Treasure-Houses of Elizabethan and Stuart Drama - Bound with the first edition of the "Wild-Goose Chase"

Beaumont, Francis (1584-1616); Fletcher, John (1579-1625); Massinger, Philip (1583-1640)

Comedies and Tragedies Written by Francis Beaumont and Iohn Fletcher, Gentlemen. Neverprinted [sic!] before and now Published by the Authours Originall Copies.

London: printed for Humphrey Robinson, at the three Pidgeons, and for Humphrey Moseley, at the Princes Armes in St Pauls Church-yard, 1647



[Bound with:]  

The Wild-Goose Chase. A Comedie. As it hath been Acted with singular Applause at the Black-Friers.  

London: Humpherey Moseley, and are to be sold at the Princes Armes in St Pauls Church-yard, 1652

2 Folios bound as one: 32.3 x 21.8 cm. I. Port., [52], 75, [1], 143, [1], 165, [3], 71, [1], 172, 92, 51, p. 50, 28, 25-48 p. Collation: π1 (port.), A4, a-b4, [c]4, d-e2, f4, g2, B-K4, L2; Aa-Ss4, Aaa-Xxx4, 4A-4I4, 5A-5R4, 5S6, 5T-5X4, 6A-6K4, 6L6, 7A-7C4, 7D2, 7E-7G4, 8A-8C4, 8*D2 8D-8F4. II. [8], 56 p. Collation: π2, a2, B-P2

With the full-paged portrait of Fletcher by Marshall bound before the title page. Title page printed in red and black. Fine copies bound together in contemporary mottled calf, rebacked preserving original spine, repairs to corners. Complete with the engraved portrait (second state, with "Vates Duplex" for "vates duplex," and with "J. Berkenhead" engraved in smaller letters than those in the first state.)

This volume, modeled on the folios of Shakespeare and Ben Jonson, comprises all of the hitherto unpublished plays of Beaumont and Fletcher, with the exception of the "Wild-Goose Chase", which did not see print until 1652. In total there are 34 plays and one masque. Twelve of these are collaborations between Fletcher and Philip Massinger. Two others (Beggars' Bush and Love's Cure) are the work of Beaumont, Fletcher, and Massinger. Others involved in the writing of these plays include Ben Jonson and John Webster. Among those who provided commendatory verses for the volume are Jonson, Herrick, and Lovelace.

"We know relatively little of Beaumont and Fletcher's lives, and still less of their collaboration. Like Shakespeare, they became legendary in their lifetimes, and being almost as famous as their older contemporary their legend is almost as misty. The actual concept of collaboration became an essential part of the legend.

"In 1607 [Fletcher] joined Beaumont in writing commendatory verses for Jonson's 'Volpone', and he may have revised Beaumont's 'the Woman Hater' before its publication in the same year. His own first published play, 'The Faithful Shepherdess', written in 1608, was prefaced like 'The Woman Hater' by a commendation from Jonson. His regular collaboration with Beaumont probably began in 1608 when he was twenty-seven and Beaumont twenty-two. Their first joint play, 'Cupid's Revenge', was written, like the other early plays, for a boys' company, and they went on to write 'Philaster' in 1609 for Shakespeare's company, the King's Men, who were more or less their sole employers thereafter. Aubrey's jotting refers to this and the next few years, which produced altogether about six joint plays. From about 1613, when Beaumont dropped out, Fletcher collaborated successively with Shakespeare, Massinger, Field and Rowley, until his death in 1625.” (Andrew Gurr, 'Philaster')

I. Pforzheimer 53; Wing B-1581; II. Pforzheimer 52; Wing B-1616