Richard Brinsley Sheridan (October 30, 1751 – July 7, 1816) was an Irish playwright and Whig statesman.
Sheridan was born in Dublin on October 30, 1751 at 12 Dorset Street, a fashionable street in the late eighteenth century. (Fellow playwright Sean O'Casey was born on Dorset Street 130 years later). He was baptized on November 4, 1751, his father Thomas Sheridan being an actor-manager who managed the Theatre Royal, Dublin for a time, and his mother, Frances Sheridan, a writer. She died when her son was fifteen.
Sheridan was educated at Harrow School, and was to study law. However, his highly romantic elopement with Elizabeth Linley (daughter of Thomas Linley), and their subsequent marriage in 1773, put paid to such hopes. When he returned to London, he began writing for the stage. His first play, The Rivals, produced at Covent Garden in 1775, was a failure on its first night. Sheridan cast a more capable actor for the role of the comic Irishman for its second performance, and it was a smash which immediately established the young playwright's reputation. It has gone on to become a standard of English literature.
Having quickly made his name and fortune, Sheridan bought a share in Drury Lane. His most famous play The School for Scandal (1777) is considered one of the greatest comedies of manners in English. It was followed by The Critic (1779), an updating of the satirical Restoration play The Rehearsal.
Sheridan was also a Whig politician, entering parliament in 1780 under the sponsorship of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. A great public speaker, he remained in parliament until 1812, and was a leading figure in the party. He was also the great-grandfather of Lord Dufferin, third Governor General of Canada and eighth Viceroy of India.
Upon his death, Sheridan was buried in the Poets' Corner of Westminster Abbey.