Sheridan, Richard Brinsley Butler (17511816)

Sheridan, Richard Brinsley Butler, dramatist and politician, born in Dublin; educated at Harrow; was already committed to literature when, in 1773, he settled down in London with his gifted young wife, Elizabeth Linley, and scored his first success with the “Rivals” in 1775, following it up with the overrated “Duenna”; aided by his father-in-law became owner of Drury Lane Theatre, which somewhat lagged till the production of his most brilliant satirical comedy, “The School for Scandal” (1777) and the “Critic” set flowing the tide of prosperity; turning his attention next to politics he entered Parliament under Fox's patronage in 1780, and two years later became Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs in Rockingham's ministry; his great speech (1787) impeaching Hastings for his treatment of the Begums placed him in the front rank of orators, but although he sat for 32 years in Parliament, only once again reached the same height of eloquence in a speech (1794) supporting the French Revolution, and generally failed to establish himself as a reliable statesman; meanwhile his theatrical venture had ended disastrously, and other financial troubles thickening around him, he died in poverty, but was accorded a burial in Westminster Abbey (17511816).

Definition taken from The Nuttall Encyclopædia, edited by the Reverend James Wood (1907)

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