Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Brewer, Antony

BREWER, ANTONY (fl. 1655), dramatic writer, wrote 'The Love-sick King, an English Tragical History, with the Life and Death of Cartesmunda, the Fair Nun of Winchester, by Anth. Brewer,' 1655, 4to ; revived at the King's Theatre in 1680, and reprinted in that year under the title of 'The Perjured Nun,' 4to. Chetwood included the 'Love-sick King' in his 'Select Collection of Old Plays,' published at Dublin in 1750, but he made no attempt to correct the text of the old edition, which was printed with the grossest carelessness. The play was written in verse, but it is printed almost throughout as prose. Yet after all allowance has been made for textual corruptions, it cannot be said that the 'Love-sick King' is a work of much ability ; and it is rash to follow Kirkman, Baker, and Halliwell in identifying Antony Brewer with the 'T. B.' whose name is on the title-page of the 'Country Girl,' 1647, 4to, a well-written comedy, which in parts (notably in the third act) closely recalls the diction and versification of Massinger. There is no known dramatist of the time to whom the initials T. B. could belong. There was a versatile writer named Thomas Brewer [q. v.], and the title-pages to his tracts are usually signed with his initials, not with the full name. His claim to the 'Country Girl' would be quite as reasonable as Antony [Tony] Brewer's. In 1677 John Leanerd, whom Langbaine calls 'a confident plagiarist,' reprinted the 'Country Girl,' with a few slight alterations, as his own, under the title of 'Country Innocence.' To Antony Brewer was formerly ascribed 'Lingua, or the Combat of the Five Senses for Superiority,' 1607, 4to, a well-known dramatic piece (included in the various editions of Dodsley), constructed partly in the style of a morality and partly of a masque. The mistake arose thus. Kirkman, the bookseller and publisher, in printing his catalogues of plays, left blanks where the names of the writers were unknown to him. Annexed to the 'Love-sick King' was the name Antony Brewer ; then came the plays 'Landgartha,' 'Love's Loadstone,' ' Lingua,' and 'Love's Dominion.' Phillips, who was followed by Winstanley, misunderstanding the use of Kirkman's blanks, promptly assigned all these pieces to Brewer. One other play, 'The Merry Devil of Edmonton,' 1608, 4to, has been with similar carelessness pronounced to be Antony Brewer's on the strength of an entry in the Stationers' Registry which refers to the prose tract of the 'Merry Devil ' [see Brewer, Thomas]. The play was entered in the registers on 22 Oct. 1607 (Arber's Transcripts, iii. 362).

[Langbaine's English Dramatic Poets; Biographia Dramatica, ed. Stephen Jones; Halliwell's Dictionary of Old Plays.]

A. H. B.