George Farquhar

Definition

Theater

  • (1678 - 1707) Irish-born British playwright of the Restorationperiod (see Restoration drama). During his ten-yearcareer, he produced two brilliant comedies, The Recruiting Officerin 1706 and The Beaux' Stratagem the following year.

    The son of a clergyman, he studied at Trinity College, Dublin,before briefly working as an actor at the Smock Alley Theatre in thatcity. Following an accident during a stage fight, when he mistakenlyused a real sword and wounded a fellow actor so badly that he almostdied, Farquhar renounced acting. Encouraged by his fellow actor RobertWilks, he took up the pen and settled in London. His first play Loveand a Bottle was well received at Drury Lane in 1698. The followingyear, The Constant Couple; or, A Trip to the Jubilee was aneven greater hit with Wilks in the lead.

    After Sir Harry Wildair (1701), a sequel to TheConstant Couple, and The Twin-Rivals (1702), he wrote hisfirst great play. The first production of The Recruiting Officerstarred Anne Oldfield, with whom Farquhar supposedly hadan affair. The following year Farquhar, with "not one shilling"in his pocket, was encouraged by Wilks to produce a hastily writtenplay. The next day Farquhar delivered the plot for The Beaux' Stratagem,which was presented on stage within six weeks. He died from tuberculosisafter the third performance, which included these lines in the Epilogue:

    Forbear, you fair, on his last scene to frown,
    But his true exit with a plaudit crown
    Then shall the dying poet cease to fear
    The dreadful knell, while your applause he hears.
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