Rowe, Nicholas (rō) [key], 1674–1718, English dramatist. An ardent Whig, he was able to gain various government posts during the course of his life. In 1715 he became poet laureate. His first two plays, The Ambitious Stepmother (1700) and Tamerlane (1701), established his reputation as a popular playwright. Soon afterward he wrote his best plays, The Fair Penitent (1703) and Jane Shore (1714); both are stories of men's cruelty to women that prefigure the domestic tragedies popular later in the 18th cent. Rowe is also well known for his edition of Shakespeare (1709), which supplied valuable textual and biographical data and divided the plays into acts and scenes.
See J. Canfield, Nicholas Rowe and Christian Tragedy (1977)