Birth of Richard Brinsley Sheridan, playwright and Whig MP

He was born in Dublin to theatrical parents – his father was an actor manager of the Smock Alley Theatre and his mother was a novelist and playwright. Setting up house in London in the 1770s, Sheridan wrote a series of plays on which his fame rests, including The Rivals (1775), The School for Scandal (1777) and The Critic (1779). In 1776 he bought out David Garrick to become manager and later owner of the Drury Lane Theatre. In 1780 Sheridan entered the House of Commons as MP for Stafford as a Whig supporter of Charles James Fox. In parliament Sheridan established a reputation as a great orator – his speech demanding the impeachment of Warren Hastings was regarded by both Burke and Pitt as the greatest speech they had ever heard. With the Whigs in a long period of opposition, he only achieved office briefly as Treasurer of the Navy (1806-07). Sheridan’s later years were plagued with illness debt, exacerbated by the loss of his parliamentary income and the burning down of the Drury Lane Theatre. He died in July 1816 aged 64 and is buried in poets corner in Westminster Abbey.