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Beaumont and Fletcher were the English dramatists Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, who collaborated in their writing during the reign of James I (he reigned in England 1603-1625)

When the first collected folio of Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher, containing a masque and some thirty-four plays, none of the latter having previously been printed, was published in 1647, long after the deaths of its authors, no attempt was made to discriminate between the parts of the famous collaborators; nor did the 1679 folio, in spite of its eighteen additional plays, suggest that a separation was desirable or feasible. But recent investigation has tended more and more strongly toward such a distinction, until, for instance, C.M. Gayley in his Beaumont the Dramatist is sure of only six plays as the joint product of Swinburne's Castor and Pollux of the English drama--although E.H.C. Oliphant in his The Plays of Beaumont and Fletcher prefers eight and allows the two men three more with the assistance of Massinger.

Moreover, contrary to the older impression growing out of the longer dramatic career and larger output of Fletcher, virtually all modern critics insist that Beaumont was the greater dramatist. But the disentangling of the web has not ended here, since the hands of Massinger and Field, not to mention those of William Rowley, Shirley, Shakespeare, and others have been identified in a considerable part of the work which for many years masqueraded under the label of "Beaumont and Fletcher." The whole situation provides a striking commentary on the conditions of Elizabethan dramatic publication and authorship.

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