Born on 19th of February 1717
Died on 20th of January 1779
Quotes from David Garrick
'The boughs that bear most hang'... More
David Garrick changed British theatre in the 18th century: he introduced a natural style of acting that suited subtlety and nuance far more than the bombastic method then standard; he made Shakespeare fashionable again, and revived interest in Reformation drama; his directing brought on a new generation of actors; and he even improved the behaviour of theatre audiences.
Garrick was born in Hereford on February 19 1717, but was educated at Lichfield Grammar, going on briefly to study at Dr Johnson’s Edial School nearby. He and Johnson set out together to make their fortunes in London in 1737. The first route Garrick tried was the bar, but neither that nor a partnership with his brother in a wine business worked out.
An interest in acting marked his schooldays, and after further amateur appearances he took to the stage professionally in 1741. His rise to stardom was meteoric: by October that year he was playing Richard III to packed houses in an East End theatre. Covent Garden and Drury Lane theatres combined to have it closed – it had no licence - then vied for his services.
Garrick played both before settling on a lifetime’s association with Drury Lane, where he became co-proprietor in 1747. He turned its declining fortunes around, and with the exception of one extended trip abroad to allow the public to appreciate his absence he was to appear constantly until his 1776 retirement.
As a playwright his output was large but undistinguished. But as a manager, director and actor he was without equal in his day. Garrick enjoyed financial and artistic success, and was feted by society at all levels. Gainsborough, Reynolds, and even Hogarth painted him, as did many lesser artists, such was his fame and popularity.
He died in London on January 20 1779, and was given the honour of being the first actor to be buried in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey.
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