William O’Brien

Works

Life
?1740-1815; of Inchiquin family, m. dg of Earl of Ilchester, Receiver Gen. of Dorsetshire; plays inc. Cross-Purposes (1772), a farce in two acts; The Duel (1773); songs were published as O’Brien’s Lusorium (1782), and often reprinted; comic writings were bawdy, shocking. PI RR ODNB PI DIW

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Works
Cross Purposes: a farce [4th Edn.] (London 1783), 8°; Do. [Dick’s Standard Plays, No. 163] (London [1875]), pp.55-64.

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Criticism
Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), Vol. II, p.453.

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References
Dictionary of National Biography: d.1815; actor and dramatist; engaged by Garrick to replace Woodward, 1758; m. Lady Susan Fox-Strangeways, 1764; lived in America, became receiver general of Dorset; Cross-Purposes and the Duel (dates as above).

Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (Tralee: The Kerryman 1946): ?1736-1815; Appeared as Captain Brazen in Farquhar’s Recruiting Officer, 3 Oct. 1758; m. Susan Sara Strangways, eldest dg. of Stephen Fox, Earl of Ilchester. Cross Purposes, farce (CG 5 Dec. 1772) 1772, a success, based on La Font’s Le[s] Trois Frères Rivaux; The Duel (DL 8 Dec. 1772); based on Sedaine’s Le Philosophe sans le Savoir.

Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986) , cites The Duel (1772) featured trigger-happy Sir Dermot O’Leinster and his son. (p.161.)

Belfast Public Library holds Duel (1772).

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Notes
Q. source: ‘William O’Brien ... made his first appearance at Drury lane Theatre in the year 1758 in the part of Captain Brazen [Farquhar’s Recruiting Officer] and in characters of that class he arrived at a high degree of reputation. After continuing on the stage about 6 years, he withdrew altogether from theatrical life. O’Brien was well-descended, and married into a noble family. Of his two dramas, the farce Cross Purposes, reduced to one act, remained for many years as a stock piece; his comedy, entitled The Duel, was unsuccessful.’ A long letter from O’Brien to George Colman, introducing Cross Purposes and discussing its production, [apparently following cuts, and urging no further cutting] is printed in Memoirs of the Colman Family, ed. R. P. Peake, vol. 1, 1841, pp. 266.

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