Thomas Otway was born March 3, 1652, in Trotton, Sussex, the son of Humphrey Otway, an Anglican clergyman of distinguished family and of Royalist sympathies, and Elizabeth Otway, of whom little is known. Otway briefly attended Winchester College before entering Oxford University in May, 1669; he left the university in 1671 without taking a degree, perhaps because of the death of his father. Sometime after leaving Oxford, Otway made his way to London, where, at the Duke’s Theatre, he was given a role in Aphra Behn’s play The Forced Marriage: Or, The Jealous Bridegroom (pr. 1670). His performance was a failure; nevertheless, he may for a time have found some marginal employment as an actor. In any event, by 1675, the year in which his first play, Alcibiades, was presented at Dorset Garden, he was devoting himself to the financially insecure profession of playwriting. Despite some early theatrical success (notably the extremely popular Don Carlos, Prince of Spain), the uncertainty of his fortunes and of patronage by members of the royal court probably led to his decision to join the English forces in Flanders in 1678. Even though Otway received a commission, his military career was brief: The army was recalled from Flanders early in 1679 and disbanded in June. This expedition having improved his fortunes not at all, Otway returned to writing, and thereupon followed his most concentrated period of literary production. The plays The History and Fall of Caius Marius, The Orphan, and The Soldier’s Fortune, and the poem The Poet’s Complaint of His Muse, were either first produced or first published within the year. He was granted a master of arts degree by St. John’s College, Cambridge University, in 1680, and, at about this time, he may have been tutor to one of Charles II’s illegitimate children by Nell Gwyn. Nevertheless, Otway seems to have slipped into a state of poverty that the production of his later plays, Venice Preserved and The Atheist, did little to relieve. Although the circumstances of Otway’s death in London on April 14, 1685, became the stuff of legend, they remain uncertain.