Authors: Richard Brome

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

English playwright

Author Works

Drama:

Christianetta, pr. 1623(?) (with George Chapman?; no longer extant)

A Fault in Friendship, pr. 1623 (with “Young Johnson”; no longer extant)

The Love-sick Maid: Or, The Honor of Young Ladies, pr. 1629 (no longer extant)

The Northern Lass, pr. 1629

The City Wit: Or, The Woman Wears the Breeches, pr. c. 1629

The Queen’s Exchange, pr. 1631-1632(?)

The Novella, pr. 1632

The Covent-Garden Weeded, pr. 1632

The Love-sick Court: Or, The Ambitious Politique, pr. 1633-1634(?)

The Late Lancashire Witches, pr., pb. 1634 (with Thomas Heywood)

The Life and Death of Sir Martin Skink, pr. c. 1634 (with Heywood; no longer extant)

The Apprentice’s Prize, pr. c. 1634 (with Heywood?; no longer extant)

The Sparagus Garden, pr. 1635

The New Academy: Or, The New Exchange, pr. 1635(?)

The Queen and the Concubine, pr. 1635-1636(?)

The Jewish Gentleman, pr. 1636(?) (no longer extant)

The English Moor: Or, The Mock-Marriage, pr. 1637

The Antipodes, pr. 1638

The Damoiselle: Or, The New Ordinary, pr. 1638(?)

Wit in Madness, pr. 1638-1639(?) (no longer extant)

A Mad Couple Well Matched, pr. 1639

The Court Beggar, pr. 1640

A Jovial Crew: Or, The Merry Beggars, pr. 1641

Biography

The last of the Elizabethan writers of comedy, Richard Brome (brohm) had no contemporary chronicler, and he left few legal traces of his existence. Yet he was a friend of the great and near great. Originally, he was Ben Jonson’s servant–though it is not clear whether in a menial or secretarial capacity–and he rose from humble beginnings to a place of some prominence. He called himself a playmaker rather than a poet, and he was a writer of popular comedies, satires, masques, and nineteen or more romantic plays. Only five of his plays were published during his lifetime.{$I[AN]9810000655}{$I[A]Brome, Richard}{$I[geo]ENGLAND;Brome, Richard}{$I[tim]1590;Brome, Richard}

Brome wrote for such prominent companies as the King’s Men, the King’s Revels at Salisbury Court, and Beeston’s Boys at the Phoenix. His plays were repeatedly performed at the most popular theaters, and on several occasions he collaborated with other working dramatists (however, he disdained the courtly amateurs). Even after the Restoration, his plays continued to be revised and played. His comedies, like those of his mentor Jonson, contained much deft writing and satiric but accurate portrayals of the age. More important, his art anticipated the witty and bawdy comedy of manners and thus serves as a bridge between two great periods of comedy in the theater.

The facts of Brome’s biography remain scanty. He was probably an actor early in life, possibly in a company of strolling players. In 1628, he is listed among the members of the queen of Bohemia’s company, Lady Elizabeth’s Men. He was possibly married three times, and legal notices indicate that money was usually scarce with him. When Parliament closed the theaters in 1642, Brome was deprived of his livelihood, and he died impoverished ten years later.

BibliographyAndrews, Clarence Edward. Richard Brome: A Study of His Life and Works. 1913. Reprint. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1972. This scholarly analysis proposes a chronology and a bibliography of Brome’s work, devotes a long chapter to the qualities of Brome’s plays, and considers the influence on Brome of Ben Jonson, William Shakespeare, Thomas Dekker, and others.Clark, Ira. Professional Playwrights: Massinger, Ford, Shirley, and Brome. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1992. Discusses the careers of Brome, Philip Massinger, John Ford, and James Shirley.Davis, Joe Lee. The Sons of Ben: Jonsonian Comedy in Caroline England. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1967. Brome is one of a group of minor dramatists called the Sons of Ben for their imitation of Ben Jonson. Caroline England was dominated by Puritanism and Platonism, and Davis traces the consequences of this domination for the comedy of the period.Donaldson, Ian. The World Upside-Down: Comedy from Jonson to Fielding. London: Oxford University Press, 1970. Contains chapters on six comedies, including Brome’s The Antipodes. Donaldson finds Brome’s work “readable,” his plays “brisk, well-made, seldom dull” but rarely showing “true comic originality,” and his talent only “an engaging minor one.” The Antipodes is “absurdist” but “basically comforting and conservative,” and its moral premises are “strikingly simple and assured.”Gaby, Rosemary. “Of Vagabonds and Commonwealths: Beggar’s Bush, A Jovial Crew, and The Sisters.” Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 34, no. 2 (Spring, 1994): 401. An examination of three seventeenth century comedies revolving around money, sex, and social status and featuring country rogues: Brome’s A Jovial Crew, John Fletcher’s Beggar’s Bush, and James Shirley’s The Sisters.Kaufmann, R. J. Richard Brome: Caroline Playwright. New York: Columbia University Press, 1961. Kaufmann offers an informative and comprehensive overview of Brome’s work, stressing Brome’s conservative clinging to “Tudor culture.” Appendix 1 provides “Undigested Records,” and appendix 2 proposes a “Chronology of Brome’s Plays.”Leggatt, Alexander. Introduction to English Renaissance Comedy. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999. This work on Renaissance comedy in England contains a discussion of Brome’s A Jovial Crew. Bibliography and index.Sanders, Julie. Caroline Drama: The Plays of Massinger, Ford, Shirley, and Brome. Plymouth, England: Northcote House, in association with the British Council, 1999. An examination of the plays of Caroline dramatists Brome, Philip Massinger, John Ford, and James Shirley. Bibliography and index.Shaw, Catherine M. Richard Brome. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980. An excellent introduction to Brome. Rather imaginative chapter topics include “The Ladies Take the Stage” and “The Gentlemen: Fathers, Fools, and Fops.” This well-written study gives a good sense of the contents and qualities of Brome’s work.White, Martin. Renaissance Drama in Action: An Introduction to Aspects of Theatre Practice and Performance. New York: Routledge, 1998. White’s book delves into the staging and performance of Renaissance drama. His discussion of the difficulties of reconstructing early works features a case study of Brome’s A Jovial Crew, which was, according to some critics, less than successfully updated for the modern stage when performed in 1992.
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