Author and playwright Nicholas Rowe was born on June 20, 1674 in Little Barford, Bedfordshire, England. He was an English writer who was the first to attempt a critical edition of the works of William Shakespeare. Rowe succeeded Nahum Tate as Poet Laureate in 1715 and was also the foremost 18th-century English tragic dramatist, doing much to assist the rise of the domestic tragedy. His early plays such as The Ambitious Step-Mother (1700) and Tamerlane (1702) are reminiscent of John Dryden’s heroic drama in their pomp and bluster but contain elements presaging the spirit of sentiment that characterizes The Fair Penitent (1703) and later works. Rowe composed The Tragedy of Jane Shore (1714) in imitation of Shakespeare’s style, as he did The Tragedy of the Lady Jane Grey (1715). His only comedy, The Biter (1704), was a failure. In The Works of Mr. William Shakespeare; Revis’d and Corrected, Rowe essentially followed the fourth folio edition of 1685, although he claimed to have arrived at the text by comparing several editions. He did, however, restore some passages in Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, and King Lear from early texts. He did add biographical information on the life of Shakespeare that, although composed for the most part of inaccurate information, remained the basis for all Shakespeare biographies until the early 19th century. He died on December 6, 1718 and was buried at Westminster Abbey.
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