Girls on the Run: Love’s Pilgrimage, The Coxcomb, and Double Falsehood

  • Christopher Hicklin


This essay examines two overlooked Fletcherian plays that have many elements in common with Double Falsehood, but lack the Shakespearian connection that has brought it so much attention. Love’s Pilgrimage and The Coxcomb share a similar textual history with Double Falsehood. All three plays were based on stories by Cervantes, cowritten by John Fletcher between 1609 and 1616, not published during the lifetimes of the playwrights, and printed only in a revised state.1 However, the ur-text behind Double Falsehood is widely supposed to have been a collaboration with William Shakespeare, while The Coxcomb and Love’s Pilgrimage are attributed to Fletcher’s partnership with Francis Beaumont.2 As a result there is a mass-market edition of Double Falsehood, along with a number of adaptations and productions, but even Beaumont and Fletcher specialists say little about The Coxcomb and less about Love’s Pilgrimage.


Fine Hand Romantic Convention Final Scene Stage Direction Sexual Imagery 
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  1. 1.
    There is space in this essay to discuss only briefly the specifically Cervantine aspects of these plays; I use their origin as a selection principle. The most detailed examination of Fletcher’s use of Cervantes is Joan F. McMurray, “John Fletcher and His Sources in Cervantes” (PhD diss., University of Rochester, 1987), though it does not examine Double Falsehood. See also T. L. Darby, “Cervantes in England: The Influence of Golden-Age Prose Fiction on Jacobean Drama, c. 1615–1625,” Bulletin of Hispanic Studies 74 (1997): 425–41, available online at Early Modern Spain, Darby briefly discusses the staging of the first scene of Love’s Pilgrimage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cyrus Hoy, “The Shares of Fletcher and His Collaborators in the Beaumont and Fletcher Canon (VII),” Studies in Bibliography 15 (1962): 86. Though Hoy’s methodology has been criticized, this series of articles in SiB8–9, 11–15, available online at, remains a useful starting point for attributions.Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    The pastoral scenes in Double Falsehood are those most commonly attributed to Fletcher. On Fletcher’s reworking of pastoral and romantic conventions in The Faithful Shepherdess, see Lee Bliss, “Defending Fletcher’s Shepherds,” Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 23 (1983): 295–310, and on the manipulation of genre and convention in the Beaumont and Fletcher canon,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. see Eugene Waith, The Pattern of Tragicomedy in Beaumont and Fletcher (1952; reprint, New York: Archon Books, 1969).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    One other connection between Cardenio and Love’s Pilgrimage is F. G. Fleay’s discredited claim that Love’s Pilgrimage was the “Cardenna/o” of the 1613 performance records, because (in both the play and Cervantes) Leocadia claims she is “Francisco, son to Don-Henriques/De Cardinas” [2.2.163–41): see Fleay’s Biographical Chronicle of the English Drama 1559–1642 (London, 1891), 1:194. G. E. Bentley countered this claim, arguing that Humphrey Moseley would not have registered Love’s Pilgrimage in 1646 and re-registered the same play as Cardenio in 1653 (Jacobean and Caroline Stage 3:370). Conclusive evidence that Love’s Pilgrimage was not originally Cardenio is that Cervantes’s “Las dos doncellas” was not licensed for print in Spain until August 1613, so the documents of May and June 1613 cannot refer to a play based on it.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    G. E. Bentley, The Jacobean and Caroline Stage (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956–1968), 3:367.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    E. K. Chambers, The Elizabethan Stage (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1923), 3:223–24. A. S. W. Rosenbach is skeptical that Cervantes is a source, “The Curious-Impertinent in English Dramatic Literature before Shelton’s Translation of Don Quixote,” Modern Language Notes 17 (1902): 181–2. Joan F. McMurray argues that “the general parallels between the characters and the plot [are] strong enough to demonstrate that Fletcher used in a highly inventive way the serious Spanish story as the model for the coxcomb story in the play,” in “John Fletcher and His Sources in Cervantes,” 217. Rosenbach’s skepticism is evidence of the extent to which Fletcher (at least when collaborating with Beaumont) was willing to depart from a Cervantine source.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    Appleton, Beaumont and Fletcher, A Critical Study (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1956), 45–6.Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Waith, The Pattern of Tragicomedy in Beaumont and Fletcher (1952; reprint, New York: Archon Books, 1969), 19.Google Scholar
  10. 26.
    McLuskie, “The Plays and the Playwrights: 1613–42,” in The Revels History of Drama in English, gen. eds. Clifford Leech and T. W. Craik (London and New York: Methuen, 1975–1983), 4:182.Google Scholar

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© Terri Bourus and Gary Taylor 2013

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  • Christopher Hicklin

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