John Fletcher's father William Fletcher is famous as the chaplain who tormented Mary, Queen of Scots at her execution. Little is known of the playwright's early life, except that he entered Bene't (now Corpus Christi) College, Cambridge, at the age of eleven. Sometime around 1606 he began writing for the London stage, working first for the Children of the Queen's Revels. He later moved on to Shakespeare's company, the King's Men, where he eventually became chief playwright.
Drama was a very popular form of entertainment in the Jacobean age, and there was a constant demand for new plays. Some idea of Fletcher's rate of production can be gathered from the 1679 folio edition of the plays he wrote with Beaumont; it does not contain everything he wrote (and may well contain much that he did not write), but the total of fifty-two plays is impressive - sixteen more than the 1623 Shakespeare Folio.
Realistic characterisation and plot was not Fletcher's strong point, but his plays contain some fine poetry, and satisfied his audience's taste for sensation and emotional dilemmas. His successful career was cut short by the great London Plague of 1625. Most people who could afford to fled to the safety of the country, but Fletcher was infected when he stayed in town to be measured for a new suit, and died soon afterwards.