The Lady of Pleasvre - A Comedie First Published in 1637 - Written by James Shirly Classic Drama and Plays The Lady of Pleasure is a Caroline era comedy of manners written by James Shirley, first published in 1637. It has often been cited as among the best, and sometimes as the single best, the "most brilliant," of the dramatist's comic works. The play was licensed for performance by Sir Henry Herbert, the Master of the Revels, on 15 October 1635. It was performed by Queen Henrietta's Men at the Cockpit Theatre in Drury Lane, in the final winter before the theatres suffered a long closure due to bubonic plague (May 1636 to October 1637) and Shirley himself left London for Dublin (1637). The 1637 quarto was printed by Thomas Cotes for the booksellers Andrew Crooke and William Cooke. This first edition may throw some light on the publication of Shirley's works in the late 1630s and after. Scholarly opinion has been divided as to the degree to which Shirley was or wasn't involved in the publication of his plays. One body of opinion holds that the Queen Henrietta's company sold off their stock of Shirley's plays to the stationers during the difficult months of the 1636-37 theatre closure, after Shirley had left for Ireland. (Five of his plays were published in 1637 alone, and four more by the end of 1639.) Upon his return to London in 1640, Shirley was so annoyed by this that he would no longer write for the company, but switched to the King's Men for his final plays, before the theatres closed in 1642 with the start of the English Civil War. In this context, note that the 1637 quarto was dedicated to Richard Lovelace, who had been created Baron Lovelace of Hurley in 1627. But Richard Lovelace had died in April 1634; his son and successor was named John. This sloppiness is more suggestive of the tradesmen booksellers than of Shirley the Court sophisticate. As it was Acted by her Majesties Servants, at the private House in Drury Lane. Are. Tis that I came to towne for, I wo'd notEndure againe the countrey conversation,To be the Lady of sixe shires I the menSo neare the Primitive making, they retaineA sence of nothing but the earth, their brainesAnd barren heads standing as much in wantOf plowing as their ground, to heare a fellowMake himselfe merry and his horse with whistelingSellingers round, to observe with what solemnitieThey keepe their Wakes, and throw for pewter Candlestickes,How they become the Morris, whith whose bellsThey ring all into Whitson Ales, and sweate,Through twenty Scarffes and Napkins, till the HobbyhorseTire, and the maide Marrian dissolv'd to a gelly,Be kept for spoone meate.
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