Home » Languages » English (Sr. Secondary) » Essay, Biography or Paragraph on “James Shirley” great author complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

Essay, Biography or Paragraph on “James Shirley” great author complete biography for Class 10, Class 12 and Graduation and other classes.

James Shirley

(1596 – 1666)

James Shirley was a leading dramatist of the Caroline stage. He was born in London on September 13, 1596, and educated at Merchant Taylors’ School and St. John’s College, Oxford. In 1615 he was at St. Catherine’s Hall, Cambridge, and by 1618 had published his first work, a long poem called Echo; or, The Unfortunate Lovers, which has since disappeared. In 1620, Shirley took holy orders and became headmaster of Edward VI’s Grammar School at St. Alban’s, 1623-1625. After his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1625, he lost his post, moved to London, and began writing for the stage. Shirley wrote 36 plays between 1625 and the closing of the theatres in 1642.

Shirley’s  first play was The School of Compliment (1625),later re-named’ Love Tricks. It was followed by The Maid’s Revenge (1626). Shirley was an admirer of Beaumont and Fletcher, and their influence is apparent in Shirley’s comedies and tragicomedies, like Hyde Park (1632), The Gamester (1633), and The Sisters (1642). Shirley first wrote for the Cockpit Theatre, but in 1636 he travelled to Ireland in the company of the Earl of Strafford and remained in Dublin writing for the Werburgh Street Theatre. In 1640 Shirley was back in London, this time replacing Philip Massinger as dramatist with the King’s Men. In 1646 he published a book of Poems, but after 1653 turned again to plays and published three more volumes of them. Shirley wrote for court audiences and developed a new kind of comedy, which suited that clientele, some-thing both intellectual and refined. Shirley is a comedian of wit, the dialogues of his plays are very witty, full of double entendre and satire of contemporary modes of living. Perhaps his best-known play is The Lady of Pleasure (1635), fairly recently reprinted by Scolar Press. His other comedies include The Young Admiral (1633), The Witty Fair One (1633), and The Imposture (1640). His tragedies, which also show the influence of Beaumont and Fletcher, include The Traitor (1631), Love’s Cruelty (1631), The Politician (c.1639), and The Cardinal (1641). Some of Shirley’s masques survive, including the wonderful The Triumph of Peace (1634) and Cupid and Death (1653). His famous The Glories of Our Blood and State concludes The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses for the Armour of Achilles (comp. c.1640; pub. 1658), a dramatization from Ovid.

He remained for the rest of his life in London, and met his death from exposure during the Great Fire of London in 1666. He was buried with his second wife in the parish of St. Giles-in-the-Fields on October 29, 1666.


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