1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Munday, Anthony

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MUNDAY (or Monday), ANTHONY (c. 1553–1633), English dramatist and miscellaneous writer, son of Christopher Monday, a London draper, was born in 1553–1554. He had already appeared on the stage when in 1576 he bound himself apprentice for eight years to John Allde, the stationer, an engagement from which he was speedily released, for in 1578 he was in Rome. In the opening lines of his English Romayne Lyfe (1582) he avers that in going abroad he was actuated solely by a desire to see strange countries and to learn foreign languages; but he must be regarded, if not as a spy sent to report on the English Jesuit College in Rome, as a journalist who meant to make literary capital out of the designs of the English Catholics resident in France and Italy. He says that he and his companion, Thomas Nowell, were robbed of all they possessed on the road from Boulogne to Amiens, where they were kindly received by an English priest, who entrusted them with letters to be delivered in Reims. These they handed over to the English ambassador in Paris, where under a false name, as the son of a well-known English Catholic, Munday gained recommendations which secured his reception at the English College in Rome. He was treated with special kindness by the rector, Dr Morris, for the sake of his supposed father. He gives a detailed account of the routine of the place, of the dispute between the English and Welsh students, of the carnival at Rome, and finally of the martyrdom of Richard Atkins (? 1559–1581). He returned to England in 1578–1579, and became an actor again, being a member of the Earl of Oxford’s company between 1579 and 1584. In a Catholic tract entitled A True Reporte of the death of——M. Campion (1581), Munday is accused of having deceived his master Allde, a charge which he refuted by publishing Allde’s signed declaration to the contrary, and he is also said to have been hissed off the stage. He was one of the chief witnesses against Edmund Campion and his associates, and wrote about this time five anti-popish pamphlets, among them the savage and bigoted tract entitled A Discoverie of Edmund Campion and his Confederates——whereto is added the execution of Edmund Campion, Raphe Sherwin, and Alexander Brian, the first part of which was read aloud from the scaffold at Campion’s death in December 1581. His political services against the Catholics were rewarded in 1584 by the post of messenger to her Majesty’s chamber, and from this time he seems to have ceased to appear on the stage. In 1598–1599, when he travelled with the earl of Pembroke’s men in the Low Countries, it was in the capacity of playwright to furbish up old plays. He devoted himself to writing for the booksellers and the theatres, compiling religious works, translating Amadis de Gaule and other French romances, and putting words to popular airs. He was the chief pageant-writer for the City from 1605 to 1616, and it is likely that he supplied most of the pageants between 1592 and 1605, of which no authentic record has been kept. It is by these entertainments of his, which rivalled in success those of Ben Jonson and Middleton, that he won his greatest fame; but of all the achievements of his versatile talent the only one that was noted in his epitaph in St Stephens, Coleman Street, London, where he was buried on the 10th of August 1633, was his enlarged edition (1618) of Stow’s Survey of London. In some of his pageants he signs himself “citizen and draper of London,” and in his later years he is said to have followed his father’s trade.

Of the eighteen plays between the dates of 1584 and 1602 which are assigned to Munday in collaboration with Henry Chettle, Michael Drayton, Thomas Dekker and other dramatists, only four are extant. John a Kent and John a Cumber, dated 1595, is supposed to be the same as Wiseman of West Chester, produced by the Admiral’s men at the Rae Theatre on the 2nd of December 1594. A ballad of British Sidanen, on which it may have been founded was entered at Stationers’ Hall in 1579. The Downfall of Robert Earl of Huntingdon, afterwards called Robin Hood of merrie Sherwodde (acted in February 1599) was followed in the same month by a second part, The Death of Robert Earl of Huntingdon (printed 1601), in which he collaborated with Henry Chettle. Munday also had a share with Michael Drayton, Robert Wilson and Richard Hathway in the First Part of the history of the life of Sir John Oldcastle (acted 1599), which was printed in 1600, with the name of William Shakespeare, which was speedily withdrawn on the title page. William Webbe (Discourse of English Poetrie, 1586) praised him for his pastorals, of which there remains only the title, Sweet Sobs and Amorous Complaints of Shepherds and Nymphs; and Francis Meres (Palladis Tamia, 1598) gives him among dramatic writers the exaggerated praise of being “our best plotter.” Ben Jonson ridiculed him in The Case is Altered as Antonio Balladino, pageant poet. Munday’s works usually appeared under his own name, but he sometimes used the pseudonym of “Lazarus Piot.” A. H. Bullen identifies him with the “Shepherd Tony” who contributed “Beauty sat bathing by a spring” and six other lyrics to England’s Helicon (ed. Bullen, 1899, p. 15).

The completest account of Anthony Munday is T. Seccombe’s article in the Dict. Nat. Biog. A life and bibliography are prefixed to the Shakespeare Society’s reprint of John a Kent and John a Cumber (ed. J. P. Collier, 1851). His two “Robin Hood” plays were edited by J. P. Collier in Old Plays (1828), and his English Romayne Lyfe was printed in the Harleian Miscellany, vii. 136 seq. (ed. Park, 1811). For an account of his city pageants see F. W. Fairholt, Lord Mayor’s Pageants (Percy Soc., No. 38, 1843).