William Congreve

William Congreve
William Congreve

William Congreve in 1709 by Godfrey Kneller.
Born 24 January 1670(1670-01-24)
Bardsey, England
Died 19 January 1729(1729-01-19) (aged 58)
London, England
Occupation Playwright, Poet
Nationality English
Period 1693–1700

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


Early life

Congreve was born in Bardsey, West Yorkshire, England (near Leeds). His parents were William Congreve (1637–1708) and his wife, Mary (née Browning; 1636?–1715); a sister was buried in London in 1672. He spent his childhood in Ireland, where his father, a Cavalier, had settled during the reign of Charles II. Congreve was educated at Trinity College in Dublin; there he met Jonathan Swift, who would be his friend for the remainder of his life. 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.

Literary career

William Congreve wrote some of the most popular English plays of the Restoration period of the late 17th century. 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)

Unfortunately, his career ended almost as soon as it began. After writing five plays from his first in 1693 until 1700, he produced no more as public tastes turned against the sort of high-brow sexual comedy of manners in which he specialized. 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 despite his stance as 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 Molière'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, including Anne Bracegirdle, for whom he wrote major parts in all his plays, and Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough, daughter of the famous general, John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, whom he had probably met by 1703 and with whom he had a daughter, Mary (1723–1764).

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:

  • "Music has charms to soothe a savage breast," which is the first line of the play, spoken by Almeria in Act I, Scene 1. (The word "breast" is often misquoted as "beast", and 'has' sometimes appears as 'hath'.)
  • "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.[1] (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."


See also


  • Klekar, Cynthia. “Obligation, Coercion, and Economy: The Gift of Deed in Congreve’s The Way of the World.” In The Culture of the Gift in Eighteenth-Century England, ed. Linda Zionkowski and Cynthia Klekar. New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2009.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужно решить контрольную?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • William Congreve — ist der Name folgender Persönlichkeiten: William Congreve (General) († 1814), englischer General und Vater des gleichnamigen Erfinders William Congreve (Erfinder) (1772 1828), englischer Ingenieur und Raketenpionier William Congreve (Autor) (1670 …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • William Congreve — Retrato de William Congreve por Godfrey Kneller, imagen en blanco y negro del oleo original en color. Para otros personajes con el mismo nombre, véase William Congreve (desambiguación). William Congreve (24 de enero de 1670 19 de enero de 1729)… …   Wikipedia Español

  • William Congreve — noun English playwright remembered for his comedies (1670 1729) • Syn: ↑Congreve • Instance Hypernyms: ↑dramatist, ↑playwright * * * William Congreve [William Congreve …   Useful english dictionary

  • William Congreve —  Cette page d’homonymie répertorie différentes personnes partageant un même nom. William Congreve (1670 1729), auteur britannique de théâtre ; William Congreve (1772 1828), inventeur britannique. Catégorie : Homonymie de personnes …   Wikipédia en Français

  • William congreve (auteur) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir William Congreve. William Congreve. Tableau de Godfrey Kneller. William Congrev …   Wikipédia en Français

  • William Congreve (Autor) — William Congreve (Autor). William Congreve (* 24. Januar 1670 in Bardsey bei Leeds; † 19. Januar 1729 in London) war ein englischer Dramatiker und Dichter. Congreve studierte Rechtswissenschaften am Trinity College in …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • William Congreve (desambiguación) — Saltar a navegación, búsqueda William Congreve (1670 1729) fue un poeta y político inglés. William Congreve es también el nombre de: William Congreve (inventor) (1772 1828). William La Touche Congreve (1891 1916). Obtenido de William Congreve… …   Wikipedia Español

  • William congreve (inventeur) — Pour les articles homonymes, voir William Congreve. William Congreve Sir William Congreve (20 mai …   Wikipédia en Français

  • William Congreve (disambiguation) — William Congreve (1670 1729) was an English playwright and poet.William Congreve may also refer to:*Sir William Congreve, 1st Baronet (died 1814), father of the inventor *Sir William Congreve, 2nd Baronet (1772 1828), inventor *Billy Congreve… …   Wikipedia

  • William Congreve — ➡ Congreve * * * …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”