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William Congreve

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Occupation  Playwright, poet
Period  1693–1700
Role  Playwright
Nationality  English
Name  William Congreve
William Congreve William Congreve by Granger
Born  24 January 1670 Bardsey, England (1670-01-24)
Died  January 19, 1729, London, United Kingdom
Books  The Mourning Bride, The works of William Congreve
Parents  William Congreve, Mary Browning
Plays  The Way of the World, Love for Love, The Double Dealer
Similar People  Aphra Behn, Henry Purcell, Montague Summers, George Frideric Handel, John Burnside

False though she be william congreve audiobook short poetry

William Congreve (24 January 1670 – 19 January 1729) was an English playwright and poet.


The way of the world by william congreve monologue 2014

Early life

William Congreve NPG 3199 William Congreve Portrait National Portrait

Congreve was born in Bardsey, West Yorkshire, England (near Leeds). His parents were William Congreve (1637–1708) and Mary (nee Browning; 1636?–1715). The family moved to London in 1672. They relocated again in 1674 to the Irish port town of Youghal where his father served as a lieutenant in the British army. Congreve spent his childhood in Ireland, where his father, a Cavalier, had settled during the reign of Charles II. Congreve was educated at Kilkenny College where he met Jonathan Swift, who would be his friend for the remainder of his life; and at Trinity College in Dublin. Upon graduation, he matriculated in the Middle Temple in London to study law, but felt himself pulled toward literature, drama, and the fashionable life. Artistically, he became a disciple of John Dryden whom he met through the gatherings of literary circles held at Will's Coffeehouse in the Covenant Garden District of London.

Literary career

William Congreve httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommons55

William Congreve wrote some of the most popular English plays of the Restoration period of the late 17th century. His first play, The Old Bachelor, was produced at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1693 and later produced by the Theatre Royale. By the age of thirty, he had written four comedies, including Love for Love (premiered 30 April 1695) and The Way of the World (premiered 1700), and one tragedy, The Mourning Bride (1697).

William Congreve Pious Celindaquot by William Congreve YouTube

His playwrighting career was brief. Five plays authored from 1693 to 1700 would prove the entirety of his output, as public tastes turned away from the sort of high-brow sexual comedy of manners in which he specialised. He reportedly was particularly stung by a critique written by Jeremy Collier (A Short View of the Immorality and Profaneness of the English Stage), to the point that he wrote a long reply, "Amendments of Mr. Collier's False and Imperfect Citations." A member of the Whig Kit-Kat Club, Congreve's career shifted to the political sector, where he held various minor political positions, including being named Secretary of the Island of Jamaica by George I in 1714, in spite of being a Whig among Tories.

Later life

Congreve withdrew from the theatre and lived the rest of his life on residuals from his early work. His output from 1700 was restricted to the occasional poem and some translation (notably Moliere's Monsieur de Pourceaugnac). Congreve never married; in his own era and through subsequent generations, he was famous for his friendships with prominent actresses and noblewomen for whom he wrote major parts in all his plays.These women included Anne Bracegirdle and Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough, daughter of the famous general, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough. Congreve and Henrietta probably met by 1703 and she had a daughter, Mary (1723–1764), who was believed to be his.

As early as 1710, he suffered both from gout and from cataracts on his eyes. Congreve suffered a carriage accident in late September 1728, from which he never recovered (having probably received an internal injury); he died in London in January 1729, and was buried in Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Famous lines

Two of Congreve's turns of phrase from The Mourning Bride (1697) have become famous, albeit frequently in misquotation, and often misattributed to William Shakespeare:

  • "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast," which is the first line of the play, spoken by Almeria in Act I, Scene 1. This is often misquoted as "Music has charms to soothe the savage beast".
  • "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," spoken by Zara in Act III, Scene VIII. (This is usually paraphrased as "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned")
  • Congreve coined another famous phrase in Love for Love (1695):

  • "O fie, miss, you must not kiss and tell."
  • Works

  • The Old Bachelor (1693)
  • The Double Dealer (1694)
  • Love for Love (1695)
  • The Mourning Bride (1697)
  • The Way of the World Is also William Congreve last play (1700)
  • Quotes

    Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned - Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned
    Music has charms to soothe the savage breast To soften rocks - or bend a knotted oak
    If there's delight in love - 'Tis when I see that heart - which others bleed for - bleed for me


    William Congreve Wikipedia