1902 Encyclopedia > Richard Edwards

Richard Edwards
English musician and writer of interludes

RICHARD EDWARDS, (1523-1566), a musician and writer of interludes, was born in Somersetshire, studied at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, took his master of arts degree in 1547, entered at Lincoln's Inn, and was appointed in 1561 a gentleman of the royal chapel and master of the singing boys. He probably died about the end of 1566, as his epitaph was written by Turberville in the following year. A "tragedy" from his pen—possibly, in spite of the designa-tion, the comedy of Damon and Pithias—was acted before Queen Elizabeth at Christmas 1564; and on September 3, 1566, the same honour was accorded to his Palamon and Arcite. The latter play was never printed, and like most of the author's productions is now lost, but the former, entered at Stationers' Hall in 1567-8, appeared in 1571 with the title of " The excellent Comedie of two the moste faithfullest freendes, Damon and Pithias," was reprinted in 1582, and may be found in Dodsley's Old Plays, vol. i., and Ancient British Drama, vol. i. It is written in rhymed lines of rude construction, varying in length and neglecting the ccesura, and, according to A. W. Ward, it is " one of the clumsiest of our early plays, both in action and in language." Its principal subject is tragic, but it is interlarded with scenes of vulgar and witless farce. A number of the author's shorter pieces are preserved in the Paradise of Dainty Devices, first published in 1575, and reprinted in the British Bibliographer, vol. iii.; the best known are the lines on May, the Amantmm Irce, and the Commendation of Music, which has the honour of furnish-ing a stanza to Romeo and Juliet. The Historic of Damocles and Dionise is assigned to him in the 1578 edition of the Paradise. In his own day Edwards was held in the highest estimation. " He united," says Warton, "all those arts and accomplishments which minister to popular pleasantry; he was the first fiddler, the most fashionable sonneteer, the readiest rhymer, and the most facetious mimic of the court."

See, besides the numerous authorities given by Allibone in Diet, of Brit. and Amer. Authors, the Shakespeare Soc. Papers, vol. ii. art. vi.; Ward, English Dram. Literature, vol. i.

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