William Congreve 1670–1729

  • Ian McGowan
Part of the St. Martin’s Anthologies of English Literature book series (AEL)


Born in Yorkshire, Congreve went to school in Kilkenny and to Trinity College, Dublin, beside Swift. After a brief period studying law in London, he turned to writing: a novel Incognita appeared in 1691. His fame was achieved with four comedies: The Old Bachelor (1693); The Double Dealer (1694); Love for Love (1695); The Way of the World (1700). To his mastery of the Restoration comedy of manners, with its wit and sexual intrigue, he added a delicacy of investigating the underlying emotions; the plays are regularly revived. Johnson praised the poetry of his tragedy The Mourning Bride (1697). In the second half of his life, he wrote little, holding official posts and moving in fashionable and literary circles.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Nature America Inc. 1989

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  • Ian McGowan

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