The Elder Brother

The Elder Brother

The Elder Brother

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The Elder Brother is an early seventeenth-century stage play, a comedy written by John Fletcher and Philip Massinger. Apparently dating from 1625, it may have been the last play Fletcher worked on before his August 1625 death.Terence P. Logan and Denzell S. Smith, eds. The Later Jacobean and Caroline Dramatists: A Survey and Bibliography of Recent Studies in English Renaissance Drama, Lincoln, NE, University of Nebraska Press, 1978; p. 78.


Both the Prologue and the Epilogue of the play mention Fletcher's passing; the Prologue refers to him as "now dead," indicating, perhaps, a recent event. The Elder Brother is unusual in the canons of both Fletcher and Massinger in being almost entirely in prose rather than verse. (Only the Prologue, the Epilogue, and a lyric in III,v are in verse; and the Prologue and Epilogue are of uncertain authorship, in this play as in others.) A prose play was logically easier and quicker to compose that a work in verse. It is possible that The Elder Brother was a "rush job" done in the final weeks and months of Fletcher's life.


The early performance history of the play is unknown. The first recorded performance occurred at the Blackfriars Theatre on 25 April 1635;G. E. Bentley, "The Diary of a Caroline Theatergoer," Modern Philology Vol. 35 No. 1 (August 1937), pp. 61-72; see p. 66. and it was staged at Hampton Court Palace on 5 January 1637. The play...
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