Sheridan: His Life and His Theatre

by Lewis Gibbs.Morrow, $4.00.
It’s forty years, says the publisher, since an adequate biography of Sheridan has appeared. The present one shows that the biographers have been neglecting a first-rate subject—which doesn’t matter since Lewis Gibbs does handsomely by ; the author of The School for Scandal.
The Rivals made Sheridan famous at twenty-four. At twenty-eight he gave up play writing to become manager of the Drury Lane Theatre, and for the next thirty-two years he was also a prominent Member of Parliament. Born with neither “pedigree nor property,”he was buried in state at Westminster Abbey. Charles Fox said he knew no one wittier and Byron agreed. He was an orator in the grand manner. His charm made him a favorite with the Prince of Wales. Sheer force of personality kept him in the limelight until his death. But his private life was hideously chaotic. Though married to a celebrated beauty, he remained an “oftrepentant but incorrigible philanderer. Excessive drinking ruined his health. Extravagance and mismanagement saddled him with crushing debts — his creditors even harried him on his deathbed. Lewis Gibbs tells “poor dear Sherry’s” story with scholarship and spirit, humor and discrimination, and a lively feeling for the period.