James Shirley Famous Works: What James Shirley is Known For?

Discussing the famous works of James Shirley or James Shirley famous works: what James Shirley is known for is a ride into the depth, width, and breath of the English author’s personality, life, background, and style as a writer.

Although James Shirley has a record of speaking about topics or ideas of philosophical aura and of strong poetic quality, yet he is not as recognized as other popular writers like William Shakespeare, Marlowe, Ben Johnson, John Keats, and many more even though he has attained a certain measure of fame as a dramatist.

Even at that, this great literary enigma and icon was known for many of his poems and of course the depth of their naturality and voice. One of the very many examples is the poem titled, Death the Leveller whose main target is to address the issue of egalitarianism in the society.

He does this through the employment of the conceptual implication of death to the subject. What he intelligently drove at was the fact that even if some of us were kings who had never thought been in the same shoes as the lowly, the poor, death is the only evidence against the belief.

Thus, to him, the poem was to counter-argue the needless class consciousness that was prevalent in the world as at the time of writing the poem. Shirley, no doubt, was a very interesting writer to read mainly because of the sensationalism he drove, or the provocativeness of the ideas of his written works.

In this light, we will need to look at James Shirley famous works: what James Shirley is known for. But first, we will have to take a peep into his life and short biography:

Biographical Sketch of James Shirley

Shirley was born in London and was descended from the Shirley’s of Warwick, the oldest knighted family in Warwickshire. He was educated at Merchant Taylors’ School, London, St John’s College, Oxford, and St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, where he took his BA degree in or before 1618.

He returned to London in 1625, living in Gray’s Inn. In the following 18 years, he wrote more than 30 regular plays, tragedies, comedies, and tragicomedies. Most of his plays were performed by Queen Henrietta’s Men, the playing company for which Shirley served as house dramatist (much as William Shakespeare had for the King’s Men).

Between 1636 and 1640 Shirley went to Ireland, apparently under the patronage of the Earl of Kildare. Three or four of his plays were produced by his friend John Ogilby in Dublin’s Werburgh Street Theatre, the first ever built in Ireland and at the time of Shirley’s visit only one year old.

In 1640 he returned to London, and found that in his absence Queen Henrietta’s Men had sold off a dozen of his plays to the stationers, who published them in the late 1630s. As a result, he would no longer work for Queen Henrietta’s company, and the final plays of his London career were acted by the King’s Men.

Finally, in 1642, his career as a playwright was stopped by the London theatre closure.

Shirley’s Famous Works and Popular Deed

Below are the many works composed and written by James Shirley, the great dramatist and poet, and many of them, just like Death the Leveller, are what he is known for up till today:

  • The Wedding (1629)
  • The Grateful Servant (1630)
  • Love Tricks, or The School of Complement (1631)
  • Changes, or Love in a Maze (1632)
  • A Contention for Honour and Riches (1633)
  • The Bird in a Cage (1633)
  • The Triumph of Peace (1633)
  • The Witty Fair One (1633)
  • The Traitor (1635)
  • Hyde Park (1637)
  • The Example (1637)
  • The Gamester (1637)
  • The Lady of Pleasure (1637)
  • The Young Admiral (1637)
  • The Duke’s Mistress (1638)
  • The Royal Master (1638)
  • The Ball (1639)
  • The Maid’s Revenge (1639)
  • The Tragedie of Chabot, Admiral of France (1639)
  • A Pastoral called Arcadia (1640)
  • Love’s Cruelty (1640)
  • St. Patrick for Ireland (1640)
  • The Constant Maid (1640)
  • The Coronation (1640)
  • The Humorous Courtier (1640)
  • The Opportunity (1640)
  • The Triumph of Beauty (1646)
  • The Brothers (1652)
  • The Cardinal (1652)
  • The Doubtful Heir (1652)
  • The Imposture (1652)
  • The Sisters (1652)
  • Cupid and Death (1653)
  • The Court Secret (1653)
  • The Gentleman of Venice (1655)
  • The Politician (1655)
  • Honoria and Mammon (1659)
  • The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses (1659)

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