Lillo, George

Lillo, George,

1693–1739, English dramatist. The son of a prosperous jeweller, he was for many years his father's partner in the trade. He is chiefly remembered as the author of The London Merchant; or, The History of George Barnwell (1731), the first prose domestic tragedy in English. Though the play was popular in England throughout the 18th cent., its influence was more strongly felt on the Continent, particularly in the domestic drama of Diderot and Lessing. The only other notable play by Lillo was The Fatal Curiosity (1736).

Lillo, George

 

Born Feb. 4, 1693, in London; died there Sept. 3, 1739. English playwright. Son of a Dutch jeweler.

Lillo’s major plays were The London Merchant, or The History of George Barnwell (1731; Russian translation 1764) and The Fatal Curiosity (1736). His works solidified the position on the English stage of the domestic tragedy, or tragedie bourgeoise, which combined realistic character portrayal with moral edification. His dramas influenced literature in both Great Britain (H. Fielding, E. Moore) and France, where D. Diderot and J.-J. Rousseau were among those who esteemed Lillo highly. In the 19th century, W. Thackeray parodied Lillo’s style in his play George de Barnwell.

WORKS

Dramatic Works, 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. London, 1810.

REFERENCES

Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 1, issue 2. Moscow-Leningrad, 1945. Pages 485–89.
Hoffmann, L. George Lillo. Marburg, 1888.
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