George Farquhar

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Farquhar, George, actor and dramatist, was born at Londonderry in 1678, and received his education at Trinity College, whence he was expelled for a jest on a sacred exercise. Through the influence of Wilks, the actor, he obtained an engagement at Smock-alley Theatre, at a salary of 20s. a week. After two years, however, he left the stage, in consequence of having, in the course of a performance, accidentally wounded a brother actor. He accompanied Wilks to London, where the Earl of Orrery gave him a commission in his regiment. In 1698 he published Love and a Bottle. It was eminently successful, and other popular plays followed from his pen, such as The Constant Couple, Sir Harry Wildair.

About 1700 he served in Holland with his regiment. Ultimately selling out of the army, he was reduced to great misery, notwithstanding the popularity of his plays. He died in April 1707, aged 29, and was buried in the churchyard of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London. He left two helpless children to the care of his friend Wilks. "The appearance of his comedies may be regarded as an important epoch in the history of the English drama; . . he was the first to write in an easy flowing style, equally removed from the pedantic stiffness of Congreve,and the formal, courtly viciousness of the Etherege school." Licentious as his plays may now appear, they were purer than many of his contemporaries'. As a player, his merits were of an ordinary stamp.

Sources

97. Cyclopaedia, Penny, with Supplement. 29 vols. London, 1833.
D'Alton, John, see Nos. 12, 117a, 197b.

286. Players, Lives of the: John Galt. 2 vols. London, 1831.

339. Ware, Sir James, Works: Walter Harris. 2 vols. Dublin, 1764.

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