Little is known of Richard Brome’s personal life, including date and place of birth and death. The conventionally accepted estimate of his birth date is 1590, but evidence for the date is scanty: In 1591, a Richard Brome was listed as the son of Henry Brome in the St. James Clerkenwell parish register, and depositions in 1639 and 1640 Chancery Court suits identified a Richard Brome “aged 50 years or thereabouts.” Whether these records refer to Richard Brome the playwright is uncertain, since marriage and burial records of the period indicate several Richard Bromes in the London area alone. For the same reason, Brome’s marriage and family relationships cannot be clearly identified, though he did apparently marry and rear a family: In 1640, he complained that the Salisbury Court Theatre’s refusal to pay him caused him and his family to suffer hardship. His death can be pinned down only to the years 1652-1653.
Much more interesting information is available on Brome’s career as a playwright. The most interesting fact is that, before becoming a playwright, Brome was the servant of Ben Jonson, a leading playwright and the main theorist of Renaissance English drama. The introduction of Jonson’s comedy Bartholomew Fair (pr. 1614) refers to “his man, Master Broome, behind the arras,” and Jonson wrote a commendatory poem for Brome’s The Northern Lass that includes the following lines:
I had you for a servant, once, Dick Brome;And you performed a servant’s faithful parts.Now, you are got into a nearer room,Of fellowship, professing my old arts.And you do do them well, with good applause,Which you have justly gained from the stage,By observation of those comic laws Which I, your master,...
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