Barker, James Nelson, 1784–1858, American playwright, b. Philadelphia. In 1838, Van Buren appointed him comptroller of the Treasury, and with slight interruptions he worked in the Treasury Dept. until his death. He wrote 10 plays, five of which have survived in print. The best were The Indian Princess (1808), The Court of Love (1836; pub. in 1817 as How to Try a Lover ), and Superstition (1824), a tragedy set in colonial New England. His dramatization (1812) of Scott's Marmion had extraordinary success on the stage for 30 years. Aside from his merits as a dramatist, Barker is important for his use of American material and themes, unusual in his period.
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