Thomas Southerne

Life
1660-1746, dramatist; b. Oxmanstown, Dublin; ed. TCD, 1676-80; attended plays at Smock Alley; went to England and presented first play, The Loyal Brother, or the Persian Prince (1682) at the Drury Lane, with which maintained a lifelong connection; The Disappointment, or the Mother in Fashion (1684) played in Dublin at Smock Alley a year after its successful London premier; held army commission from Duke of Berwick on the recommendation of Patrick Sarsfield, until 1688 deposition of James II in 1688; returned to the stage with Anthony Love, or The Rambling Lady (1690), his most ribald play; best known works for tragedies based on novels by Aphra Behn, The Fatal Marriage, or, Innocent Adultery (1694) and Oroonoko, or The Royal Slave (1696); The Wives’ Excuse, or Cuckold’s Make Themselves (1692), a comedy, was praised by John Dryden, whose Cleomenes he revised in the same year; The Maid’s Last Prayer (1692) contains his Congreve’s first acknowledged production, a song for the final act; later plays include The Spartan Dame (1719) and Many the Mistress (1726); Southerne’s tragedies and comedies had a special appeal for women, as a late prologue attests, ‘each bosom heav’d, all eyes were seen to flow’; admired by fellow-writers for his business acumen, and known for his religious devotion; his works collected in 1713, and again in 1774 with a life of the author; a visit to Dublin in 1733 was recorded by Jonathan Swift, who called him ‘our old friend’; there are no Irish characters or situations in his plays. PI RR DIW DIB ODNB CAB ODNB OCEL FDA OCIL

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Works
Collaborated with Dryden on The Loyal Brother (1682); The Fatal Marriage (1694); Orinooka (1696), based on Aphra Behn’s novels. PI, The Loyal Brother; The Disappointment; Sir Anthony Love; The Wives’ Excuse or Cuckold’s Make Themselves; The Maid’s Last Supper; The Fatal Marriage, or Innocent Adultery; Oroonoko, The Fate of Capua; The Spartan Dame; Money of the Mistress; Works of T. S. 2 vols. (Lon. 1721); Plays, with life 3 vols. (Lon. 1774). See also New Cambridge Bibliog. SEE John W. Dodds, Thomas Southerne, Dramatist (1933).

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References
Oxford Companion of English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble (OUP: 1985), assigns Southerne Irish parentage, settled in London in 1680.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 1, p.502, cites Southerne in connection with the limited durability of neo-classical tragedy.

Richard Ryan, Biographia Hibernica: Irish Worthies (1821), vol. II, pp.509-62, where he is listed as Southern.

Clarke, Early Irish Stage, Southerne introduced to stage during studentship at TCD 1676-1680; his Disappointment performed 1685; Oronooko performed in 1698; Bibl, Thomas Southerne, Dramatist, John W. Dodds (New Haven 1933) [NOTE three var. spellings supra].

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Notes
Thomas Southerne ... won some success with his Fate of Capua (1700) describing events in Rome after Hannibal’s victory at Cannae; his Spartan Dame (1719) based on Plutarch’s life of Agis. (See WB Stanford, Ireland and the Classical Tradition, 1976, 1984, p.91.)

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