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David Garrick
Online Exhibition

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The Playwright and Adapter

Garrick’s activity as a writer and adapter of plays was an essential part of his working life, perhaps because England’s greatest actor-manager flourished in an age of eminently forgettable dramas.  Aside from a few works by Richard Brinsley Sheridan , author of The Rivals and School for Scandal, and Oliver Goldsmith, author of She Stoops to Conquer, there is little from the era of Garrick that survives in today’s repertory. 

Throughout his career Garrick revived Shakespeare’s plays, in the process making careful use of the work of such contemporary editors and scholars as Samuel Johnson, Bishop William Warburton, Edward Capell, George Steevens, and others. But his reshaping of the plays also helped Garrick reshape Shakespeare’s image by personalizing and popularizing the characters. As a result, many pieces panned by critics and scholars were supported enthusiastically by the public. Garrick produced twenty-six Shakespeare plays, in the process performing seventeen roles himself.


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