James Brander Matthews (February 21, 1852 - March 31, 1929) was an American academic, writer and literary critic. He was the first full-time professor of dramatic literature at Columbia University in New York and played a significant role in establishing theater as a subject worthy of formal study by academics. His interests ranged from Shakespeare, Moli re, and Ibsen to French boulevard comedies, folk theater, and the new realism of his own time.
Matthews began a literary career, writing novels, plays, short stories, books about drama, and biographies of actors during the 1880s and 1890. He wrote three books of sketches of city life. One of these, Vignettes of Manhattan (1894), was dedicated to his friend Theodore Roosevelt.
Brander Matthews was a prolific and varied writer, author of more than thirty books. His own novels and plays are undistinguished and long-forgotten (the claim to fame of one of his plays is its footnote status in Theodore Dreiser's novel Sister Carrie: it is the melodrama, A Gold Mine, which the character Carrie attends and which causes her to consider a drama career). Some of his surveys of American literature and drama sold very well as high-school and college texts. One of his earliest books, French Dramatists of the Nineteenth Century (1881), is a scholarly study of the subject and was revised and reprinted twice during two decades, while his 1919 autobiography, These Many Years, is a story of an education in the arts by a man who lived a rich and productive life. It also offers an evocation of life in Manhattan c. 1860-1900. Matthews published a biography of Moli re in 1910 and a biography of Shakespeare in 1913. (wikipedia.org)