George Lillo Biography


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

George Lillo was born in London near Moorgate on February 4, 1693. His father was Dutch, his mother English. He was reared as a Puritan Dissenter. Lillo learned his father’s trade as a jeweler, and the two were partners in London for some years until the son decided to become a playwright. Little else is known about Lillo’s life; contemporary accounts by Thomas Davies and Theophilus Cibber are still the primary sources.

Davies says that though Lillo was a Dissenter, he was “not of that sour cast which distinguishes some of our sectaries.” He further describes him as being “lusty, but not tall, of a pleasing aspect, though unhappily deprived of the sight of one eye.” Of a meeting with Lillo during a rehearsal of Fatal Curiosity in 1736, Davies recalls:Plain and simple as he was in his address, his manner of conversing was modest, affable and engaging. When invited to give his opinion of how a particular sentiment should be uttered by the actor, he exprest himself in the gentlest and most obliging terms, and conveyed instruction and conviction with good nature and good manners.

Soon after the death of Lillo, Fielding wrote in tribute to him the following words of eulogy:He had the gentlest and honestest Manners, and, at the same Time, the most friendly and obliging. He had a perfect Knowledge of Human Nature, though his Contempt for all base Means of Application, which are the necessary Steps to great Acquaintance,...

(The entire section is 429 words.)