William Shakespeare: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 6

By Brian Vickers | Go to book overview

256.

Henry Brooke, adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra

1778

From A Collection of the Pieces formerly published by Henry Brooke, Esq…. Plays and Poems Now First Printed (4 vols, 1778).

Henry Brooke (1703?-83), was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, reputedly by Swift’s friend Sheridan, and moved to London in the 1730s, where he was encouraged and praised by Lord Lyttelton and Pope, while his polemical writings against the Irish Catholics were praised by Garrick and led to him being given a government sinecure. Garrick thought highly of Brooke, and attempted to persuade him to write for the stage, offering a shilling a line if he would write exclusively for him; but Brooke rejected the proposal haughtily, and Garrick never forgave him. Brooke wrote poetry, plays, and several novels, of which The Fool of Quality (1766-70) had the greatest success: it was republished in an abbreviated edition by John Wesley in 1780, and again by Charles Kingsley in 1859, both editors praising its morality. His collected works (which include an adaptation of Cymbeline: Vol. III, pp. 169-256) were issued by friends in an attempt to raise money after he had collapsed following the deaths of his wife and children, but the collection was made hastily and did not succeed. Garrick reviewed it unfavourably in the Monthly Review, lix (1778), pp. 359-65. In this adaptation (which was never performed) Brooke gives his heroes two children called Alexander and Cleopatra.

[Act I, scene 2]

ANTONY, CLEOPATRA, and Attendants, are discovered in a splendid galley; soft flutes playing. They sail down to the front of the stage, and then go off through the side wings.

-184-

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