A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Shirley, James

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Shirley, James (1596-1666). -- Dramatist, b. in London, ed. at Merchant Taylor's School, London, and at Oxf. and Camb., became a master of St. Alban's Grammar School, and afterwards joined the Roman Catholic Church, and going to London wrote for the stage, producing 39 plays. His talents and his religion recommended him to Queen Henrietta Maria, and he appears to have led a fairly prosperous life until the interdict of plays by Parliament page 343in 1642. In the Civil War he bore arms on the Royalist side, and during the Commonwealth he returned to his occupation of schoolmaster. The Restoration does not appear to have improved his fortunes much; he was burnt out in the great fire of 1666, and very soon afterwards he and his wife d. on the same day. The plays of S. include The Traitor (1631), The Cardinal (1641), The Gamester (1633), Hyde Park (1632), and The Lady of Pleasure (1635). He also wrote poems, including the well-known lines beginning "The Glories of our mortal State." S. has fancy, liveliness, and the style of a gentleman, but he lacks depth and interest. He is less gross than most of his contemporaries.

Other plays are The Ball (1632), The Maid's Revenge (1626), The Grateful Servant (1629), Bird in a Cage (1633), The Example (1634). The Constant Maid (c. 1640), Doubtful Heir, or Rosania (1640), Court Secret (1653), Contention of Ajax and Ulysses (1659), etc.