Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774) and Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1755-1816) and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (

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    Jan 27, 2013
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Goldsmith was born in Ireland, studied first divinity and then medicine without great success, wandered about Europe for some years almost penniless, and finally settled in London to earn his living by writing. He wrote essays, history, biography, poetry, - his most famous poem was The Deserted Village -, comedies (She Stoops to Conquer is still a favorite), and one novel, The Vicar of Wakefield, a humorous but tender picture of the life of a country parson and his family. Goldsmith was a friend of Dr. Samuel Johnson, who wrote the first great English Dictionary and Lives of the Poets.

Sheridan was born in Ireland, and educated at a good English school. He made a romantic marriage and entered fashionable society with very little money; His first comedy, The Rivals, was produced in 1775. After this he became part owner of a London theatre and wrote other comedies: The School for Scandal and The Critic. The subject of the latter is the theatre itself, with the conflicts between producers, actors and managers. Sheridan`s plays were popular, but owing to his extravagance, he was continually in financial difficulties. In 1780 he was elected to Parliament, where he was successful as an orator. Sheridan became a confidential friend of the Prince of Wales, and remained in Parliament till 1812, but his debts increased and he died in poverty.

Sheridan`s two chief plays, The School for Scandal and The Rivals, are brilliant comedies of manners, full of amusing situations and witty dialogue. With Goldsmith`s She Stoops to Conquer, they form a bright spot in the otherwise dull history of English drama between the brilliance of the Restoration Period and its revival late in the nineteenth century.

Coleridge was educated in London and at Cambridge University. The French Revolution seemed to him the beginning of a new and better era, and he dreamed of emigration to America to found an ideal state there. His plans failed, and he married and settled in Somerset, where Wordsworth was for a time his neighbor. The friendship stimulated and influenced both poets, and led to the publication of the Lyrical Ballads. In 1798 Coleridge visited Germany, and came under the influence of German literature and philosophy. Later he joined Wordsworth in the Lake District in the north of England, and spent a great part of his life there.

Coleridge was a writer of undoubted genius, but his habit of drug-taking gradually affected his character and his powers of production, and the volume of his work is relatively small. His fame rests on his strange imaginative poems, The Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and the fragment Kubla Khan, and on his critical work, his lectures on Shakespeare and the Biographia Literaria.


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