Besides plays, Richard Brome wrote only some brief commendatory poems attached to other writers’ collections of poetry or plays. He also edited John Fletcher’s play Monsieur Thomas (pr. 1610-1616, pb. 1639) and probably edited Lachrymae Musarum: The Tears of the Muses (1649), a collection of elegies, to which Brome contributed, on the death of Henry Hastings in 1645.
The reputation of Caroline playwright Richard Brome has generally been haunted by some ambiguity or doubt. During his own time, Brome was extremely popular, but even then his success was marred by criticisms that he pandered to his audience’s poor tastes. Such criticisms might have been motivated to some extent by irrelevant factors, such as envy of his success and scorn for his humble background as a servant. His popularity continued during the Restoration, when his work influenced the form of Restoration comedy, and lasted into the eighteenth century. During the Victorian period, Brome was roundly condemned as the most obscene of the Renaissance dramatists and frequently contrasted with Ben Jonson—Jonson and Brome, respectively, epitomizing a “good” versus a “bad” comic dramatist. Again, irrelevant factors appear to have clouded the critical estimates of Brome.
Brome’s ambiguous reputation has continued into the modern period, when he has been known as the most outstanding minor Caroline dramatist, but his status has also been on the rise. Kathleen Lynch demonstrated that Brome is an important link between Renaissance and Restoration comedy in The Social Mode of Restoration Comedy (1926), and R. J. Kaufmann valued Brome’s work as an accurate reflection of Brome’s time, a pivotal period in English history, in Richard Brome: Caroline Playwright (1961). Brome, however, is not merely of historical interest: His plays,...
Andrews, 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...