R. B. Sheridan was born in 1751 in Dublin, Ireland, where his family had a house on then-fashionable Dorset Street. While in Dublin Sheridan attended the English Grammar School in Grafton Street. The family moved permanently to England in 1758 when he was age seven. He was a pupil at Harrow School outside London from 1762 to 1768. His mother, Frances Sheridan, was a playwright and novelist. She had two plays produced in London in the early 1760s, though she is best known for her novel The Memoirs of Sidney Biddulph (1761). His father, Thomas Sheridan, was for a while an actor-manager at the Smock Alley Theatre but, following his move to England in 1758, he gave up acting and wrote a number of books concerning education and, especially, the standardisation of the English language in education.
In 1772 Richard Sheridan fought a famous duel against Captain Thomas Mathews. Mathews had written a newspaper article defaming the character of Elizabeth Linley, the woman Sheridan intended to marry, and honour dictated that a duel must be fought. A first duel was fought in London where they agreed to fight in Hyde Park, but finding it too crowded they went to the Castle Tavern in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. Far from its romantic image, the duel was short and bloodless. Mathews lost his sword and, according to Sheridan, was forced to ‘beg for his life’ and sign a retraction of the article. The apology was made public and Mathews, infuriated by the publicity the duel had received, refused to accept his defeat as final and challenged Sheridan to another duel. Sheridan was not obliged to accept this challenge, but would have become a social pariah if he had not. The second duel, fought in August 1772 at Kingsdown near Bath, was a much more ferocious affair. This time both men broke their swords but carried on fighting in a ‘desperate struggle for life and honour’. Both were wounded, Sheridan dangerously, being ‘borne from the field with a portion of his antagonist’s weapon sticking through an ear, his breast-bone touched, his whole body covered with wounds and blood, and his face nearly beaten to jelly with the hilt of Mathews’ sword’. Fortunately his remarkable constitution pulled him through, and eight days after this bloody affair the Bath Chronicle was able to announce that he was out of danger. Mathews escaped in a post chaise.
1773: After Sheridan enters at Middle Temple in the 6th of April he begins being officially married to Elizabeth. They move in a house in Portman Square, London, with almost no money.
1775: First production of Richard Sheridan’s comedy “The Rivals” in January. November he produced the second comic opera “The Duenna. In the same year he writes also “St Patrick’s Day” his third play.
1776: He buys half share of the Drury Lane Theatre.Thomas Linley and Dr Ford were also his partners.
1777: He put on his own the major success of “The School for Scandal”. He also writes “A Trip to Scarborough .
1778: Sheridans buys entirely the Drury Lane Theatre. Produces “The Camp”.
1780: First elected to Parliament for the Whig party in Stafford as a friend of Charles James Fox.
1782: Becomes Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.
1783: Richard Sheridan appointed Secretary of the Treasury.
1787: Sheridan oratory performance as he spoke for five hours on the impeachment of Warren Hastings was well received.
1791: Rebuilding of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, as it was thought to be unsafe.
1792: Death of his wife, Elizabeth.
1794: Last great speech in parliament on the non-intervention with the French Revolution. He didn’t support the unification of the Irish and British parliaments.
1795 Married Esther Jane, daughter of Newton Ogle, The Dean of Winchester.
1803: Sheridan wrote “an Address to the People”.
1804: Appointed Receiver-General of the Duchy of Cornwall.
1806: The Whigs came back to power and Sheridan was appointed Treasurer of the Navy. He failed to become the Head of the Whigs.
1807: He lost at the General Election in Westminster but got back into Parliament at Ilchester.
1809: Second rebuilding of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane after a fire.
1811: Prince George became the Prince Regent and Sheridan’s influence on him helped in stopping the Whigs in achieving the power.
1812: Sheridan could not get enough money to buy the parliamentary seat of Stafford after a fight with the Prince Regent. All his creditors came after him leaving him broke.
1815: Became gravely ill and confined to his bed.
7th July 1816: He dies at age of 64. He is buried at Poet’s corner, Westminster Abbey,London