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Etherege, Sir George.

Etherege, Sir George (b. c. 1635, Maidenhead, Berkshire, Eng.?--d. c. May 10, 1692)

Originator of the English Restoration comedy of manners.

Etherege's first comedy, The Comical Revenge;or,Love in a Tub, was premiered at Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre in 1664. An immediate success, it was novel in its exploitation of contemporary manners, especially in the intrigue of the stylish Sir Frederick Frollick. Written in heroic couplets and blank verse, it nonetheless followed earlier tradition, with its romantic plot and its farcical subplot in prose. Its success gave Etherege an entrance into the world of fashion, where he became the boon companion of the literary rakes Sir Charles Sedley, the Earl of Rochester, and the Earl of Dorset. She Wou'd if She Cou'd, Etherege's second comedy (1668), was the first comedy of manners to attain unity of tone by shedding the incongruous romantic verse element.

Etherege wrote the prologue for the opening in 1671 of the new Dorset Garden Theatre. There his last and wittiest comedy, The Man of Mode,or,Sir Fopling Flutter, was produced with acclaim in 1676. He was knighted in 1680.

Etherege's style of comedy was successfully cultivated by his successors and has persisted to modern times. His own plays, however, failed to hold the stage after the mid-18th century. His love lyrics are among the most charming of their day.

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Publication:Merriam Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature
Article Type:Brief biography
Date:Jan 1, 1995
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