Harlequin Sheridan, the Man and the Legends: With a Bibliography and Appendices

Harlequin Sheridan, the Man and the Legends: With a Bibliography and Appendices

Harlequin Sheridan, the Man and the Legends: With a Bibliography and Appendices

Harlequin Sheridan, the Man and the Legends: With a Bibliography and Appendices

Excerpt

It is seven years since this biography was planned, at the same time as the edition of The Plays and Poems of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, which appeared in three volumes in 1928. From all my precursors, from John Watkins in 1816 to E. M. Butler in 1931 I have exacted contributions, going to them, however, for documents and facts rather than opinions and interpretations. To these I have added what is known as "new material" being the further evidence of contemporary sources, printed or unprinted, upon which they have not drawn. It is my hope to have shown Sheridan in the round, as he appeared to his own generation, not only from his letters and plays and speeches, but surrounded by squibs and lampoons, newspaper-paragraphs and election-results, accusations and exculpations, libels and lies.

Sheridan was caricatured and lampooned under many soubriquets like "Dick Merryman" and "Bardolph" and "Old Sherry," but Harlequin is the one nickname that linked up his character with his theatrical avocations.

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Sheridan, as he always insisted, was a man of the theatre in spite of himself. It was the paradox of his life. At Harrow, where players were despised, he was taunted with being "a player's son," and the insult rankled to the last. When he came to marry, his wife was a public performer, and he insisted upon her retirement as her profession was inconsistent with his own of being a gentleman. He was forced by poverty into the only occupation that offered a rapid advancement for his talents, and within a year he was acclaimed as the author of "the two best comedies of his age." Then the opportunity for his financial ambitions presented itself for him to become a proprietor and manager of a theatre. Of the routine duties of theatrical . . .

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