Huw Griffiths


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

“The more your beard grows in, the more literal you get.” Taylor Mac, Hir1

Love’s Cure, first printed in the 1647 Beaumont and Fletcher folio but first performed in its existing state either around 1615 or in the early 1630s, is a striking addition to the comic repertory of the King’s Men.2 The repertory and, no doubt, the reputation of the King’s Men and, before that, of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, was largely established through comedy.3 While the nature of those comedies took various turns—Shakespearean romantic comedy; city comedy; humoral comedy; Fletcherean tragicomedy—Love’s Cure is founded on quite different comic assumptions from many of their earlier plays. The script for Love’s Cure, whether adapted by Massinger from an original play by Beaumont and Fletcher or worked on as a collaborative play by Massinger and Fletcher, presents not only a conspicuous shift in direction but also something of an implied critique of Shakespeare’s romantic comedies in particular.


1Taylor Mac, Hir (Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2015), 30.

2This hesitancy over dates and authorship reflects a critical controversy. There is some question over the dating of the play and, indeed, over the nature of the collaboration involved and its relationship to a source text, the Spanish play La Fuerza de la Costumbre by Guillén de Castro. Because there are very close plot details between Love’s Cure and La Fuerza, and because the latter was not available in print until 1625 (the year of Fletcher’s death), it has usually been assumed that what we have is a Francis Beaumont and John Fletcher play that was substantially revised by Philip Massinger in the light of La Fuerza. More recently, José A. Pérez Díaz has advanced a plausible alternate theory that Fletcher and his collaborators could easily have accessed the Spanish play before it was printed. Fletcher’s engagement with Spanish drama is now well established. See, for example, Barbara Fuchs’s The Poetics of Piracy: Emulating Spain in the English Renaissance (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013). See Pérez Díaz, “What the Quills Can Tell: The Case of John Fletcher and Philip Massinger’s Love’s Cure,” Shakespeare Survey 70 (2017): 89–98, for both an account of the orthodox position and his alternate argument. For a statement of the orthodox position on date and collaborative process, see George Walton Williams, “Textual Introduction,” in The Dramatic Works of the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon, ed. Fredson Bowers, (Cambridge University Press, 1976), 3:5. This essay, given its interest in broad cultural contexts, is agnostic about the precise date.

3The exhaustive account provided by Rosalind Knutson of their repertory paints a picture of a company whose plays were dominated by a wide variety of different kinds of comedy. Rosalind Knutson, The Repertory of Shakespeare’s Company 1594–1613 (Fayetteville: The University of Arkansas Press, 1991).