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Robert Barnabus Brough

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Published : 9 Articles
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Date of Birth : N/A
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Brough, Robert Barnabas I Brough, RBrough, B. Brough l, 1828-1860, writer. Attended a school in Newport, Monmouthshire. Had ability in drawing, but received no training in art. Worked as clerk in Manchester. In 1847, in Liverpool, started a satirical weekly, the Liverpool Lion. After removal to London, became contributor to the comic press: Man in the Moon, Diogenes, Comic Times; then to Illus. Times, the Train. For a time Brussels correspondent of Sunday Times; editor for short time of Atlas and of Welcome Guest. Author of Songs of the "Governing Classes," 1855; The Life of Sir John Falstaff, 1857-58; Which Is Which? or, Miles Cassidy's Contract, 1860; and other writings. Published, 1856, translation of Beranger's songs. Wrote many successful pieces for the stage, some of them alone, some in collaboration with his brother WilIiam [also a Household Words contributor]. 



      Brough's extravaganza William Tell was one of the pieces acted at Tavistock House as a children's theatrical under Dickens's direction. Brough wrote a short parody of Hard Times, published in Our Miscellany, (Which Ought to Have Come Out, but Didn't), 1856, jointly edited by him and Edmund Yates. 
      The publication in H.W. of "Calmuck," stated by Brough to be "thoroughly true," brought upon Dickens the anger of Holman Hunt. The story, as was evident not only to Hunt, but to his friends and to members of his family, was a thinly disguised account of Hunt and of his association with the girl who had posed for the shepherdess in his painting The Hireling Shepherd (1852). Hunt, in conversation and correspondence with Dickens, evidently convinced him of this fact. Dickens pointed out to Hunt the impossibility of altering the text of "Calmuck" "in future copies" of H.W., and the inadvisability of inserting in the periodical the explanation that a certain artist had "no more to do with [the story] than I have." He wrote Hunt a letter, for display to friends and family, stating that he had accepted "Calmuck" as fiction, that it was fiction, and that he regretted not having struck out "the pretence that it is true." He had never liked the story, he stated; it had been "lying at the office, unused, a long time" (Diana Holman-Hunt, My Grandfather, pp. 81-84, 190-94)· 
    Of the prose items ["Something Like a Dramatic Author" XII, 93-96. Aug. 25, 1855; "An Excusion Train" XII, 270-73. Oct. 20, 1855; "A Flat Walk" XIV, 261-64. Sept. 27, 1856; "Suburban Belgium" XIV, 475-80. Nov. 29, 1856; "Calmuck" XVII, 365-70. April 3,1858], the first two (also the last) are assigned in the Office Book merely to "Brough." "Something Like a Dramatic Author," a discussion of Lope de Vega, is based in part on a French memoir of the dramatist; it refers to one German history of Spanish drama and quotes from another; it cites, in translation, passages from Pérez de Montalván, and, both in Spanish and in translation, a sentence from one of Lope de Vega's works. The article is probably by Robert Brough, who, according to Sala ("Memoir" of Brough, prefaced to his Marston Lynch), "taught himself plenty of French, and some German, and a little Spanish"; William Brough is mentioned as having a knowledge of French only. "An Excursion Train" is clearly by Robert Brough: The writer aligns himself with the "extremely common people" who ride in "vulgar" railway carriages, people who "never saw the inside of a London club, and who know nothing of the merits of well-fitting gloves, or patent leather boots – except, perchance, from having made them," people despised by the "gentleman" and probably too by the "highly respectable" reader. The spirit is that of Songs of the "Governing Classes":
 
      "Tis a curse to the land – deny it who can? 
      That self-same boast, 'I'm a gentleman!'" 

Yates wrote that Brough held a "deep vindictive hatred of wealth and rank and respectability" (Recollections and Experiences, p. 2:15). 
      Of the verse items listed below ["Neighbour Nelly" XIII, 564. June 28,1856; "The Faithful Mirror" XIV, 348. Oct. 25, 1856; "The Last Devil's Walk" XVIII, 109. July 27,1858], the first two are assigned in the Office Book to Robert Brough. "Neighbour Nelly" is mentioned by Sala as a charming little poem contributed by Brough to one of Dickens's periodicals; it is included among Brough's poems in Miles, The Poets and the Poetry of the Century (v, 322-13). "The Last Devil's Walk" – a variation on Coleridge's "The Devil's Thoughts" – is assigned in the Office Book merely to "Brough." It is probably by the Brough who contributed the other two verse items, though both brothers wrote verse. 
      According to Sala, Brough contributed to A.Y.R. as well as to H.W. He probably wrote but little for the second periodical, since it had been in progress only a year at the time of his death. 
            D.N.B.

Author: Anne Lohrli; © University of Toronto Press, 1971. 

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 

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