Richard Brinsley Sheridan
(1751 - 1816)
In his early twenties, Richard Brinsley Sheridan abandoned his legal studies to follow in the footsteps of his mother, a playwright, and his father, a theater manager. His first play, The Rivals, was a failure upon its debut in 1775, prompting him to rewrite it. By contrast, The School for Scandal was an immediate success when it premiered two years later, by which time Sheridan had become friends with Fanny Burney, Samuel Johnson, and Edmund Burke. In 1780 he entered Parliament as a Whig representing Stafford, a seat he held for thirty-two years.