Farquhar, George

George Farquhar
George Farquhar. Image source wikipedia.org. Public Domain

George Farquhar was born in Derry (or Londonderry) in 1678, the son of a poor clergyman.

He attended Trinity College Dublin as a sizar or servitor, a class of poor scholars who were obliged to perform menial duties, but left to join the celebrated actor Wilks and his troupe of actors at Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin and was successful in this until he accidentally but seriously injured a fellow actor while playing the part of Guyomar in Dryden’s Indian Emperor.

He went to London where he again met Wilks who persuaded him to write his first comedy Love and a Bottle (London, Drury Lane, 1698), successfully produced starring Wilks as Sir Harry Wildair, when he was only twenty.
This was followed by The Constant Couple; or A Trip to the Jubilee (1700).

He acquired a commission in the army and after a stint in Holland, he wrote a seque to The Constant Couple called Sir Harry Wildair; or, The Sequel to A Trip to the Jubilee (1701).

His Miscellanies; or, Collections of Poems, Letters and Essays followed in 1702.

The following year he produced The Inconstant (1703), which was not initially successful because of a new fashion for opera. That same year he married a widow who turned out to have two daughters, but after the initial shock of discovering their existance, he treated them with kindness and affection and a maturity beyond his years, acknowleging his own fault in marrying what he thought was a wealthy widow.

His remaining plays are The Stagecoach (a collaboration with Motteux, London, 1704); The Twin Rivals (1705); The Recruiting Officer (Drury Lane, 1706), which was based on his experience as a recruiting officer in both England and Ireland; and The Beaux’ Strategem (Drury Lane, 1707). He died that same year.
After his death, a letter to Wilks was found in his papers.

Dear Bob, I have not anything to leave thee to perpetuate my memory but two helpless girls; look upon them sometimes, and think of him that was to the last moment of his life, thine, George Farquhar.

He was buried in St. Martin in the Fields, London.

Principal source: Charles A. Read, The Cabinet of Irish Literature, vol. 1 (4 vols. Glasgow, Blackie & Sons, 1880)

George Farquhar at Wikipedia

George Farquhar at The National Library of Ireland