Shirley, James,1596–1666, English dramatist. Ordained in the Church of England, he later was converted to Roman Catholicism and became a schoolmaster. He resigned that position, however, soon after the success of his first play, Love Tricks, in 1625. Included among his more than 37 plays are the comedies Hyde Park (1632) and The Lady of Pleasure (1635); the tragedies The Traitor (1631) and The Cardinal (1641); and the masques The Triumph of Peace (1633) and The Contention of Ajax and Ulysses (1659). Shirley is best remembered for his witty, satiric comedies, which brilliantly and realistically portray London society.
See studies by B. Lucow (1981) and S. A. Burner (1988).