Howard, Sir Robert
HOWARD, SIR ROBERT (1626-1698), English dramatist, sixth son of Thomas Howard, 1st earl of Berkshire, was born in 1626. He was knighted at the second battle of Newbury (1644) for his signal courage on the Royalist side. Imprisoned in Windsor Castle under the Commonwealth, his loyalty was rewarded 'at the Restoration, and he eventually became auditor of the exchequer. His best play is a comedy, The Committee, or the Faithful Irishman (1663; printed 1665), which kept the stage, long after its interest as a political satire was exhausted, for the character of Teague, said to have been drawn from one of his own servants. He was an early patron of Dryden, who married his sister, Lady Elizabeth Howard, and in the Indian Queen, a tragedy in heroic verse (1664; pr. 1665) Howard had assistance from Dryden, although the fact was not made public until the production of Dryden's Indian Emperor. The magnificence of the spectacle, and the novelty of the costume of feathers, presented by Mrs. Aphra Behn, that was worn by Zempoalla, the Indian queen, made a great sensation. The scenery and accessories were unusually brilliant, the richest ever seen in England, according to Evelyn. In 1665 Howard published Foure New Plays, in the preface to which he opposed the view maintained by Dryden in the dedicatory epistle to The Rival Ladies, that rhyme was better suited to the heroic tragedy than blank verse. Howard made an exception in favour of the rhyme of Lord Orrery, but by his silence concerning Dryden implicated him in the general censure. Dryden answered by placing Howard's sentiments in the mouth of Crites in his own Essay on Dramatic Poesy (1668). The controversy did not end here, but Dryden completely worsted his adversary in the 1668 edition of The Indian Emperor. Howard died on the 3rd of September 1698.
His brother, James Howard, wrote two comedies, All Mistaken, or the Mad Couple, a comedy (1667; pr. 1672), and The English Mounsieur (1666; pr. 1674), the success of which seems to have been partly due to the acting of Nell Gwynn.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)