William Congreve

Love for Love: a Comedy

William Congreve was born in Bardsey, West Yorkshire, England on January 24th 1670. He spent his childhood in Ireland, where his father, a Cavalier, had settled during the reign of Charles II. Congreve was educated at Trinity College in Dublin; there he met Jonathan Swift, who would be his friend for the remainder of his life. Upon graduation, he matriculated in the Middle Temple in London to study law, but felt himself pulled toward literature, drama, and the fashionable life. A great admirer of John Dryden William wrote some of the most popular plays of the Restoration including such classics as The Old Bachelor (1693), The Double Dealer (1694), Love for Love (1695), The Mourning Bride (1697) and The Way of the World (1700 and all by the age of 30. However by 1700 public tastes had turned their back on his high brow comedies and so he was restricted to the occasional poem and some translation (notably Molière's Monsieur de Pourceaugnac) and also turned from theatre to politics even collecting various minor positions in Tory Government despite being a Whig. William never married though enjoyed a long list of friendships with prominent actresses and noblewomen. By 1710, he suffered both from gout and from cataracts on his eyes. Congreve suffered a carriage accident in late September 1728, from which he never recovered and died in London on January 19th 1729, and is buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
116 printed pages


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