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About the Playwright: Richard Brinsley Sheridan

About the Playright

Richard Brinsley Sheridan's own life is as colorful as anything he created for the stage. Born in Dublin, his family moved to Bath, England while he was a young man. There he met and fell in love with Eliza Linley, a famous singer. His family opposed the match, but Sheridan and Linley eloped to France. They were pursued by another of Linley's admirers, with whom Sheridan had to fight two duels before the couple was married.

Sheridan had originally studied law, and turned to writing plays to earn extra income. Finding success as a playwright, he purchased part of David Garrick's half-share in the Drury Lane Theatre and became its manager. The School for Scandal opened in May 1777 with a brilliant cast. The play was an immediate critical and commerical hit, and established Sheridan's reputation in London society.

In spite of this success, Sheridan was plagued by financial difficulties. His true ambition lay in politics, and in 1780 he took a seat in Parliament for Stafford. He continued to be active in politics and theater until the new Drury Lane Theatre was destroyed by fire in 1809. In 1811, Sheridan lost his parliamentary seat. Heavily in debt, he died in 1816.  

Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan. Verses to the memory of Garrick. London, 1779.

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