Bird, Robert Montgomery

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Bird, Robert Montgomery

Robert Montgomery Bird, 1806–54, American playwright and novelist, b. New Castle, Del., M.D. Univ. of Pennsylvania, 1827. He wrote several prizewinning verse plays for the actor Edwin Forrest, notably The Gladiator (1831) and The Broker of Bogota (1834). A financial misunderstanding led to a break between the two friends, and Forrest refused to release the copyrights he claimed to hold for the plays. Bird then wrote prose fiction, publishing the first of his popular romances set in Mexico, Calavar (1834), followed by a sequel, The Infidel (1835). Nick of the Woods (1837), his most popular novel, drew on his travels through America. In contrast to James Fenimore Cooper, Bird depicted the Native American as violent and debased. His romances, although complicated in plot, are dramatic and contain vivid character portrayals.

See biography by his wife, M. M. Bird (1945).

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