Portrait of George Farquhar

Portrait of George Farquhar

The Irish playwright, George Farquhar, began his career as an actor. He accidentally wounded another player during a stage fight by using a real sword instead of a stage prop and decided that acting was not for him. Instead he tried his luck as a playwright in London. His first major success was The Constant Couple or a Trip to the Jubilee, performed at Drury Lane in 1699. Farquhar's next plays were not so popular and he tried to solve his money problems by marrying a rich woman. To his surprise, his chosen bride turned out to be penniless. He joined the army, which provided a regular income, and was sent to the Midlands to recruit soldiers.

Farquhar used his army experience in a play, The Recruiting Officer, written in 1706. This was a great hit with the public and Farquhar followed it with another, The Beaux' Stratagem, in 1707. Both plays are frequently staged today. Sadly, Farquhar did not live to enjoy his successes. He died soon after the first performances of The Beaux Stratagem, aged 29.