Jeremy Collier(1650-1726) was an English theatre critic, clergyman, and theologian. He was born in Cambridgeshire. Then he was educated at Caius College, University of Cambridge, receiving the BA (1673) and MA (1676). He was a supporter of James II. He refused, as a nonjuror, to swear the oath to William III and Mary II and was outlawed in 1696 for publicly absolving on the scaffold two of those found guilty of plotting to assassinate William III.
He is chiefly remembered for his Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage (1698), in which he attacked John Dryden, William Wycherley, William Congreve, Sir John Vanbrugh, Thomas D’Urfey, and Thomas Otway, complaining particularly of profanity in stage dialogue and mockery of the clergy. Congreve and D’Urfey were prosecuted, Thomas Betterton and Anne Bracegirdle were fined, and several of the poets replied, though not very effectively. Although the kind of play to which Collier objected continued to flourish, notably in the work of Congreve, Vanbrugh, and George Farquhar, its days were numbered, and Collier contributed towards the mate that produced the ‘reformed’ drama of Colley Cibber and his successors. Collier published an early encyclopedia in 1701, The great historical, geographical, genealogical and poetical dictionary. He freely admitted that the text was based on a number of earlier historians, but especially out of the eighth edition of Louis Moréri’s Grand Dictionnaire Historique. He published a learned Ecclesiastical History of Great Britain in 1708-14.
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