Richard Brinsley Butler Sheridan (October 30, 1751 – July 7, 1816) is best known as a playwright, poet, and long-term owner of the London Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. After attending Harrow School he returned there for a time when he was a Whig MP for Stafford having made a fortune from his plays The Rivals, The School for Scandal, The Duenna and A Trip to Scarborough. In 1772 he fought two duels with Captain Thomas Mathews who had written a newspaper article defaming his fiancee. Having won the first, he was seriously injured in the second and only narrowly pulled through. The offending writer escaped and honour was satisfied. Sheridan’s success made him wealthy enough to buy a share in the Theatre Royal. In February 1809 it burnt down. Sheridan took this in his stride, standing outside watching the flames with a drink in his hand, he famously remarked: “A man may surely be allowed to take a glass of wine by his own fireside.” This however was the beginning of the end, losing the income from the theatre coupled with his failure to return to Parliament left him heavily in debt and he died a pauper. He is buried at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.
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