William Congreve Additional Biography

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

ph_0111201535-Congreve.jpg William Congreve Published by Salem Press, Inc.

William Congreve (KAWN-greev) was born in Bardsey, Yorkshire, England, on January 24, 1670. In 1674, his father, William, an army officer, was stationed in Ireland. Congreve was sent to school in Kilkenny, where he met Jonathan Swift, the future satirist. The two formed a lifelong friendship. In 1686, Congreve entered Trinity College, Dublin, earning his M.A. in 1696. Around 1688, the family moved to the Congreve home at Stretton, Staffordshire, where Congreve’s father was estate agent to the earl of Cork. Congreve entered Middle Temple, London, to read law in 1691, but he soon abandoned his studies to write. He produced a light novel, Incognita: Or, Love and Duty Reconcil’d, in 1692. The following March, Congreve was catapulted to fame with the production of The Old Bachelor (pr., pb. 1693), a play he wrote to amuse himself while recovering from an illness. It was an enormous success, highly praised by the poet and essayist John Dryden, who remained an enthusiastic supporter of Congreve’s work.

His next play, The Double-Dealer (pr. 1693, pb. 1694), opened later in 1693. Though now considered a much better play than his first, it was unpopular with audiences of the time. Love for Love followed in 1695, enjoying great success as the first performance staged for the new theater in Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Congreve became one of the managers of the theater, promising to write a new play every year—a promise that he failed to keep. The year 1696 saw publication of Congreve’s essay “A Letter Concerning Humour in Comedy.”

By now, Congreve was firmly established as a man of letters. The government rewarded him with a salaried position somewhat of the nature of a sinecure. He was made a commissioner for licensing hackney coaches—the first of several undemanding yet lucrative civil...

(The entire section is 755 words.)

Biography

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

The satirical vision and pointed wit of William Congreve’s plays expose the hypocrisy, affectation, and moral degradation of the affluent society of his time. The extreme complexity of his plots makes his plays notoriously difficult to follow on the page. It is on the stage that their superbly entertaining quality is most evident: The rapid-fire wit of the dialogue, lively action, and psychological truth of the characterization carry the audience through labyrinthine twists and turns of plot. Indeed, the plays’ complex form aptly reflects the confusion created by the manipulative and self-deceiving characters, for whom no word or action is straightforward, simple, or what it seems. In Congreve’s universe, inverted or perverted values predominate, but truth and good sense must finally prevail.

Biography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Considered during his lifetime to be the legitimate rival of practically every English dramatist except William Shakespeare, William Congreve (KAWN-greev) was born in 1670 in Yorkshire, England, where his paternal grandfather led the comfortable life of a country squire. In 1674 Congreve’s father accepted a lieutenant’s commission in Ireland and moved his family first to Youghal and then to Carrickfergus. At the age of eleven young Congreve entered the school at Kilkenny, where his father had recently been posted. Here, along with the slightly older Jonathan Swift, Congreve followed a rigorous and comprehensive program of study centering on Greek and Latin classics. Knowledge of his academic performance at Kilkenny is sparse,...

(The entire section is 842 words.)

Biography

(Drama for Students)

William Congreve was born in 1670 in Bardsey (a village near Leeds), Yorkshire. When his father was commissioned to command the garrison at...

(The entire section is 410 words.)

Biography

(Drama for Students)

William Congreve was born on January 24, 1670, in the town of Bardsey in Yorkshire, England. By 1672, the family had moved to London; in...

(The entire section is 448 words.)