John Gay

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Related to John Gay: Alexander Pope, The Beggar's Opera

Gay, John,

1685–1732, English playwright and poet, b. Barnstaple, Devon. Educated at the local grammar school, he was apprenticed to a silk mercer for a brief time before commencing his literary career in London. The first of his writings to have any real merit were the mock pastoral, The Shepherd's Week (1714), and Trivia (1716), an amusing description of London life. He is remembered chiefly today for his ballad opera, The Beggar's Opera (1728), a lighthearted story of highwaymen and thieves, which satirizes both the corruption of contemporary genteel society and the then current fashion for Italian opera. Its sequel, Polly, written the following year, was suppressed by Sir Robert Walpole since it (like The Beggar's Opera) ridiculed his government. Gay was also the author of two books of verse called Fables (1727, 1738), which were very popular in his generation.


See his poetical works edited by G. C. Faber (1926, repr. 1969); study by P. A. Spacks (1965).

Gay, John


Born Sept. 1685, in Barnstaple; died Apr. 12, 1732, in London. English poet and playwright.

Gay’s Fables (two volumes, 1727-38) were successful. He also wrote the plays What D’Ye Call It (1715) and Three Hours After Marriage (1717, in collaboration with A. Pope and J. Arbuthnot) and the tragedy The Captives (1724). Gay’s fame is based on his comedy The Beggar’s Opera (1728) and its sequel Polly (1729). With these plays Gay created the genre of the so-called ballad opera, in which he combined parody with political and social satire. In the 20th century B. Brecht drew upon Gay’s work in The Threepenny Opera (1928).


The Poetical Works. London, 1926.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, issue 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945.
Istoriia zapadno-evropeiskogo teatra, vol. 2. Moscow, 1957.
Armens, Sven M. John Gay, Social Critic. New York, 1954.
Spacks, P. M. John Gay. New York, 1965.


References in periodicals archive ?
John Gay, Poems on Several Occasions, 2 vols (London: Jacob Tonson and Bernard Lintot, 1720).
Catherine married Charles Douglas, 3rd Duke of Queensberry, in 1720, and thereafter the ducal pair devoted themselves to the protection and advancement of John Gay.
Burnett who, will report to Southcorp chief executive Keith Lambert, takes over from John Gay, who has been appointed chairman of Southcorp's Americas operation.
If only from a political point of view," EWIC co-chairman John Gay told Human Events, "permanence for a big chunk of the people who have been here illegally has to be part of the [Bush] deal.
The company is putting on a production of The Beggar's Opera by John Gay, which should be an uproarious comedy.
According to John Gay, executive director and CEO of the Natural Products Association, there could be significant changes for the industry as a result of the November 2010 elections.
Guigal, France; John Gay, chairman, Southcorp Americas; Michael Quinttus of Kobrand; Bruce Herman of Young's Market wholesalers; and Michael Aaron of Sherry Lehmann wine retailers in New York.
John Gay wrote it in the 18th century to gently mock the serious operas of the day and this is rollocking good fun with non-stop singalong songs, great characters and daft situations.
His views were echoed by John Gay, an official with the American Hotel and Motel Association, and by Lowell Sachs, a spokesman for Palo Alto-based Sun Microsystems, who said there was a critical shortage of workers at both the low and high ends of the job market.
John Gay is vice president of government relations of the International Franchise Association.
The play they produce is the Beggars Opera, the wildly popular 18th-century satire by John Gay on opera.
Premiere or not, the work is important in the Britten canon since he put his unmistakable musical stamp on Johann Christoph Pepusch's 18th-century ballads amid the dialogue of playwright John Gay.