The School for Scandal and Other Plays (Paperback)
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"His Comic Muse does not go about prying into obscure corners, or collecting idle curiosities, but shows her laughing face, and points to her rich treasurethe follies of mankind"
Thus wrote William Hazlitt of Sheridan, whom he thought shone 'like Hesperus' among the comic writers of the eighteenth century. As a playwright Sheridan had a brief but brilliant career, and between the ages of twenty-four and twenty-eight he wrote two of the funniest plays in our literature, The Rivals and The School for Scandal, and a wonderful farce, The Critic. Ingenious plots, agile and eloquent wit, and an unerring eye for the comic situation characterize Sheridan's drama. Never an insistent moralist, he delighted in deflating hypocrisy and in satirizing the manners of his age. As Eric Ramp writes in the Introduction, while Sheridan was no great innovator, "the three comedies by which he is now known are in many ways the best that Georgian theatre has to offer and they are comedies which, over the last two hundred years, have added much, as Dr Johnson said about Garrick, to 'the gaiety of nations'".
About the Author
Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816) Dublin-born playwright and theatre manager, who produced three classic comedies within a five-year writing career. "Whatever Sheridan has done or chosen to do," Lord Byron wrote, "has been, par excellence, the best of its kind." He was the son of the Irish actor-manager Thomas Sheridan and his wife Frances, a popular novelist. In 1775 the double success of Sheridan's first great comedy, "The Rivals", and his comic opera "The Duenna" allowed him to buy Garrick's share in Drury Lane; he became manager in 1776 and sole owner two years later. Another brilliant comedy of manners, "The School for Scandal", opened in 1777 at Drury Lane to universal acclaim. He also wrote a burlesque of heroic drama, "The Critic "(1779). All are high comedies, featuring such memorable characters as Mrs Malaprop, Lady Teazle, and Mr Puff. Unfortunately he was not so brilliant in his management of Drury Lane. His love of extravagant spectacles almost led to bankruptcy, and he constantly became embroiled in legal action against managers of unlicensed theatres. In 1794 he rebuilt his theatre to such vast proportions that Mrs Siddons called it "a wilderness of a place." In 1780 Sheridan abandoned the theatre to enter parliament, where he gained a reputation as a fine orator (on one occasion speaking for over five hours). When Drury Lane caught fire in 1809 he drank a leisurely glass of wine at the Great Piazza coffee house, watching the flames consume his theatre and remarking "A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine at his own fireside." He died in poverty.