A Traitor’s Kiss
In A TRAITOR’S KISS: THE LIFE OF RICHARD BRINSLEY SHERIDAN, 1751-1816, Fintan O’Toole argues that Sheridan was a man full of contradictions brought about from climbing the British social ladder and remaining loyal to his Irish roots: Sheridan was Irish and English, both.
Sheridan, whose major plays were all written by the time he was twenty-eight, is primarily remembered for three brilliant comedies of manners: THE RIVALS (1775), THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL (1780), and THE CRITIC (1781), similar to Restoration comedies. Three of the most successful plays of the eighteenth century, they draw on autobiographical occurrences—feuds with fathers, elopements with beautiful women, infighting with sibling rivals, romances with illicit lovers, duels with antagonistic interlopers, and political intrigue. Sheridan eloped with the young singer Elizabeth Linley, one of the most beautiful women in England after fighting two duels with a rival for her.
While still in his twenties, Sheridan took control of London’s great Drury Lane theater. This biography, however, is concerned primarily with Sheridan’s political career.
Sheridan served in the Whig opposition party for thirty-two years in the House of Commons. His oratory remains legendary. Sheridan campaigned vigorously for Irish rights, at one point coming under scrutiny for treason. As O’Toole argues, it was Sheridan’s dearest wish to return to Ireland in a position of power to help...
(The entire section is 314 words.)
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