Sunday, August 22, 2010
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Before Noel Coward, there was Sheridan, poet and playwright, who wrote the brilliant comedy of manners, The School for Scandal, which was performed at the Royal Theatre, Drury Lane, during Jane Austen’s lifetime. She most assuredly would have been acquainted with the play as we know that she had read The Critic.
Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) was born in Ireland and was the owner of Drury Lane. On February 24, 1809, the theatre burned down. He observed the conflagration while drinking a glass of wine, and Sheridan was famously reported to have said: “A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.” This man, who had once served as Treasurer of the Navy, was a notorious spendthrift and refused to satisfy his creditors on the grounds that “paying only encourages them.” For thirty-two years he was also a Whig member of the House of Commons and friend to Charles James Fox and the Duchess of Devonshire. He is buried in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.
Posted by Mary Simonsen at 3:03 PM