He has been called "the most pathetic and tear-drawing of all our dramatists," and he excelled in delineating the stronger passions. The grossness of his comedies has banished them from the stage. Otway was born at Trotton near Midhurst, Sussex, on 3 March He was educated at Winchester College, and in entered Christ Church, Oxford , as a commoner, but left the university without a degree in the autumn of At Oxford he made the acquaintance of Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount Falkland, through whom, he says in the dedication to Caius Marius , he 1st learned to love books.
In London he made the acquaintance of Aphra Behn , who in cast him for the part of the old king in her play, Forc'd Marriage; or, The jealous bridegroom , at the Dorset Garden Theatre, but he had a bad attack of stage fright, and never made a 2nd appearance. In Thomas Betterton produced, at the same theater, Otway's 1st dramatic attempt, Alcibiades , which was printed in the same year.
Barry took the part of Draxilla, and her lover, the earl of Rochester, recommended the author of the piece to the notice of the duke of York. He made a great advance on the earlier work in Don Carlos: Prince of Spain licensed June 15, ; an updated edition probably belongs to the same year. These were printed together, with a dedication to Lord Rochester. In he produced an original comedy, Friendship in Fashion , popular at the moment, though it was hissed off the stage for its gross indecency when it was revived at Drury Lane in Meanwhile he had conceived an overwhelming passion for Mrs.
Barry, who filled many of the leading parts in his plays.
Mrs Barry seems to have coquetted with Otway, but she had no intention of permanently offending Rochester. In , driven to desperation by Mrs.
Thomas Otway (3 March – 14 April ) was an English dramatist of the Restoration . The Works of Mr. Thomas Otway with some account of his life and writings, published in , was followed by other editions (, , Thomas Otway Biography - - Thomas Otway Biography and List of Works - Thomas Otway Thomas Otway Is the author of books such as Alcibiades, a Tragedy.
Barry, Otway obtained a commission through Charles, earl of Plymouth, a natural son of Charles II, in a regiment serving in the Netherlands. The English troops were disbanded in , but were left to find their way home as best they could. Early in the next year February was produced at Dorset Garden the 1st of Otway's 2 tragic masterpieces, The Orphan; or, The unhappy marriage , Mrs. Barry playing the part of Monimia. The latter won instant success. Several other late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century marked-up exempla of the play are also recorded.
In addition prompt-books of a few other plays by Otway survive: notably a marked-up exemplum of the Dublin edition of The Cheats of Scapin British Library, Rare Books, ,d. Various prologues and epilogues were written by other authors for different productions of plays by Otway. A few examples in manuscript, also recorded and discussed in Langhans, Eighteenth Century British and Irish Promptbooks , may be listed briefly:.
Yale, Osborn MS c , pp. British Library, Add. MS , f. But his pecuniary resources fell below his needs, and on 30 June he borrowed of Tonson 11 l. Altnough Mrs. Barry's obduracy was an enduring torment to him, there is some evidence that he sought the good graces of a more notorious personage, Nell Gwynne. On 1 June he witnessed Nell's signature to a power of attorney which enabled one James Fraizer to receive her pension Memorial of Nell Gwynne , ed.
Hart, The strength of his political opinions brought upon him another kind of anxiety.
His support of the Duke of York excited the enmity of the whig poetaster, Elkanah Settle, with whom, according to Shad well, he fought a duel. Otway's harassed life reached its close in April , when he was little more than thirty-three years old. The manner of his death is matter of controversy. The earliest account is supplied by Anthony a Wood, who says that ' he made his last exit in an house in Tower Hill, called the Bull, as I have heard. Dennis the critic, writing in , asserts Remarks on Pope's Homer, p. The murderer fled towards Dover, and Otway pursued him.
In his return he drank water when violently heated, and so got a fever which was the death of him' Spence , Anecdotes , p.
According to the well-known story which first appeared in the 'Lives of the Poets' assigned to Theophilus Cibber, ib. Cibber agrees with his predecessors in stating that, to avoid the importunity of creditors, Otway had retired in his last days to a public-house on Tower Hill. The gentleman gave him a guinea, whereupon Otway bought a roll, and was choked by the first mouthful. Wood and Langbaine both state that he was writing verse up to the time of his death.
Otway was buried on 16 April in the churchyard of St. Clement Danes. A mural tablet, with a long Latin inscription, was placed, in the last century, in the church at Trotton, his birthplace, and is still extant there. He is described as 'poetarum tragicorum qui Britannia enotuerunt facile princeps.
Dryden wrote of his ' charming' face, and Sir Peter Lely, Mrs. Beale, Ryley, and Knapton all seem to have painted his portrait. Lely's picture was reproduced in mezzotint by William Faithorne, jun.
Thurston and engraved by T. Bragg while it was in the possession of T. According to Oldys, 'there is an excellent beautiful original picture of Mr. Otway, who was a fine, portly, graceful man, now among the poetical collection of the Lord Chesterfield. I think it was painted by John Ryley, in a full-bottom wig, and nothing like that quakerish figure which Knapton has imposed on the world,'. Two authentic works by Otway were published posthumously. Charles II of ever Blessed Memory,' a poor panegyric, appeared in quarto in the year of Otway's death. Written originally in French, and made English by Tho.
Otway, lately deceased,' London, 8vo. Langbaine, who noted Otway's special affection for punch, says that 'the last thing he made before his death' was 'an excellent song on that liquor. Rimbault printed from a manuscript source in 'Notes and Queries' in Otway left an unfinished tragedy which, according to Langbaine, was 'more excellent than all of them,' but was 'by some malicious or designing persons suppressed, either hereafter to set up a reputation to themselves by owning it, or to procure a profit by selling it for their own' Dramatic Poets, p.
The piece is noticed in an advertisement in the 'London Gazette' Nov. Thomas Otway sometime before his death made four acts of a play, whoever can give notice in whose hands the copy lies either to Mr. Thomas Betterton or to Mr.
William Smith at the Theatre Royal shall be well rewarded for his pains. In a feebly bombastic tragedy, called 'Heroick Friendship, a tragedy by the late Mr. Otway,' was published in London. In comedy Otway's efforts were contemptible, and excepting his adaptation of Moliere's 'Scapin,' of which Genest notes nine revivals between and , none long held the stage. As the author of 'Venice Preserved,' Otway, however, proved himself a tragic dramatist worthy to rank with the greatest of Shakespeare's contemporaries.
But he was the disciple of no English predecessor. Well read in the writings of Shakespeare, he paid equal attention to those of Racine, and in 'Venice Preserved' these two influences are visible in equal degrees. He is thus solely responsible for the dramatic interest imported into the tale.
According to his version of it, Priuli, a senator of Venice, has renounced his daughter, Belvidera, because she has married Jafner, a man poor and undistinguished. Pierre, a close friend of Jaffier, persuades him, when smarting under Priuli's taunts, to join a conspiracy which aims at the lives of all the senators. Jaffier is led to confide the secret of the plot to his wife, and her frenzied appeals to him to save her father goad him into betraying the conspiracy to the senate, and sacrificing his dearest friend.
The irrelevant scenes, in which Antonio, a caricature of Shaftesbury, is mercilessly ridiculed by Aquilina the courtesan, are a serious blot on what is otherwise a great work of art.
Start a Wiki. Whereas these good noodle-doodles do not in truth mean immoral plays — grossly immoral and subversive plays have continually been given and will be given without comment or protest — but unpleasant plays. So romance and history are chequered. The fourth act is feeble; the fifth, perhaps, the weakest of all. It would seem that for some time during the Commonwealth Humphrey Otway acted as minister at Everingham and Winestead, Hull. Betterton played Philip II, and 'all the parts were admirably acted' Downes. Limberham, produced at Dorset Garden, 11 March,
Taine, alone among critics, detected some humour in these foolish episodes. In the rest of the piece Hazlitt has justly drawn attention to ' the awful suspense of the situations; the conflict of duties and passions; the intimate bonds that unite the characters together and that are violently rent asunder like the parting of soul and body; the solemn march of the tragical events to the fatal catastrophe that winds up and closes over all.
Byron, although professing great admiration for Otway '8 work, declared Belvidera to be utterly detestable Byron , Works , ed. Moore, iii. The play was translated into almost every modern language. In France it was imitated by De la Fosse in his tragedy of 'Manlius' A prologue, spoken by 'le sieur Roseli,' dwelt on the refinement attaching to the stage traditions of France as compared with those of England.
The performance seems to have met with a qualified success.
In its German dress the piece reached St. Petersburg, where a Russian version, rendered from the German by Ya. Kozelsky, under the title of 'Vozmushchenie,' was published in A second German and a first Italian translation are each dated The sufferings of the heroine, Monimia, excite all the pity inseparable from great tragedy, and justify William Collins's well-known reference, in his 'Ode to Pity,' to 'gentlest Otway,' who 'sung the female heart.