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The play was originally attributed to, and published in, the folios of John Fletcher & Francis Beaumont but modern analysis and scholarship has defined the primary author as John Ford. There is also some evidence that the surviving play was reworked by Philip Massinger.
John Ford was born in 1586 in Ilsington, in Devon and baptizes on April 17th.
Details of his life are scare and some have a variance of truth about them. By 1602 Ford, had by most accounts, been admitted to Middle Temple in London, a prestigious law school but also a centre for literary and dramatic pursuits. In 1606 Ford was expelled due to his financial problems. He then wrote and had published two poems Fame’s Memorial and Honour Triumphant. Two years later he was back at Middle Temple and would remain there until at least 1617.
His initial forays into playwriting began with other more senior and well-known collaborators such as Thomas Dekker, John Webster, and William Rowley. It is difficult to distinguish the share of the writing amongst them but certainly his themes, style, rhythm and language are at least an influence and undoubtedly grew with each production.
From about 1627 to 1638 Ford wrote plays by himself, mostly for private theatres and his outstanding reputation, is set mainly with his first four plays in which he was the sole author. Of these, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore is the most powerful.
Ford’s austerely powerful themes are set off by subplots with minor characters and perhaps not the greatest of comedy, but together they outline him as the most important tragedian of the reign of King Charles I (1625–49).
Philip Massinger was baptized at St. Thomas's in Salisbury on November 24th, 1583.
Massinger is described in his matriculation entry at St. Alban Hall, Oxford (1602), as the son of a gentleman. His father, who had also been educated there, was a member of parliament, and attached to the household of Henry Herbert, 2nd Earl of Pembroke. The Earl was later seen as a potential patron for Massinger.
He left Oxford in 1606 without a degree. His father had died in 1603, and accounts suggest that Massinger was left with no financial support this, together with rumours that he had converted to Catholicism, meant the next stage of his career needed to provide an income.
Massinger went to London to make his living as a dramatist, but he is only recorded as author some fifteen years later, when The Virgin Martyr (1621) is given as the work of Massinger and Thomas Dekker.
During those early years as a playwright he wrote for the Elizabethan stage entrepreneur, Philip Henslowe. It was a difficult existence. Poverty was always close and there was constant pleading for advance payments on forthcoming works merely to survive.
After Henslowe died in 1616 Massinger and John Fletcher began to write primarily for the King's Men and Massinger would write regularly for them until his death.
The tone of the dedications in later plays suggests evidence of his continued poverty. In the preface of The Maid of Honour (1632) he wrote, addressing Sir Francis Foljambe and Sir Thomas Bland: "I had not to this time subsisted, but that I was supported by your frequent courtesies and favours."
The prologue to The Guardian (1633) refers to two unsuccessful plays and two years of silence, when the author feared he had lost popular favour although, from the little evidence that survives, it also seems he had involved some of his plays with political characters which would have cast shadows upon England’s alliances.
Philip Massinger died suddenly at his house near the Globe Theatre on March 17th, 1640. He was buried the next day in the churchyard of St. Saviour's, Southwark, on March 18th, 1640. In the entry in the parish register he is described as a "stranger," which, however, implies nothing more than that he belonged to another parish.
Publisher: Copyright Group