Rymer, Thomas

Rymer, Thomas rīˈmər [key], 1643?–1713, English critic and historiographer. Educated at Cambridge and Gray's Inn, he was called to the bar in 1673 but turned his efforts instead to literature, especially drama. Although in 1678 he did publish Edgar, or the English Monarch, a play in rhymed verse, he was especially interested in drama criticism. In his treatise The Tragedies of the Last Age (1677) he was fanatically hostile toward contemporary dramatists, and in A Short View of Tragedy (1692) he labeled Shakespeare's Othello “a bloody farce without salt or savour.” Made historiographer royal in 1692, Rymer began (1693) to edit a work bringing together all public documents showing relations between England and other nations from 1101 to 1654. This work, called Foedera (1704–35), was modeled after Leibniz's Codex juris gentium diplomaticus; the last 5 of the 20 volumes were edited by Robert Sanderson.

See preface to T. D. Hardy's Syllabus of Rymer's “Foedera” (1869–85); C. A. Zimansky, ed., The Critical Works of Thomas Rymer (1956, repr. 1971).

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