Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Benjamin Hoadly, M.D. (1706-1757), was the son of Benjamin Hoadly, Bishop of Winchester. His interest in theatre was chiefly manifested in his play The Suspicious Husband, first acted at Covent Garden on 12 Feb., 1747, for which David Garrick wrote a Prologue and acted the part of Ranger. The Suspicious Husband was an extremely popular play throughout the eighteenth and ninetheenth centuries. There is, however, no separate modern edition of this play, the last edition having been published in English Plays, 1660-1820, New York, 1935. The play has some importance in the light of the nature of its satiric comedy as it relates to the more sentimental comedy of the mid-eighteenth century, and the importance of its stage history with relation to David Garrick's own theatrical career.;During Garrick's lifetime Hoadly's The Suspicious Husband enjoyed 29 seasons and 126 performances. After Garrick's death in 1779, the play continued to entertain London audiences to the end of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth century. Although the play may have succeeded partly because of Garrick's own inimitable acting of Ranger, it also succeeded because of its own merits. The play excited a considerable amount of interest exhibited by such commentaries as: Samuel Foote's two pamphlets, "The Roman and English Comedy Consider'd and Compar'd. With Remarks on "The Suspicious Husband" (1747), and "An Examin of The New Comedy Call'd "The Suspicious Husband" (1747); The Drury Lane company's production of a farce by Charles Macklin styled The Suspicious Husband Criticiz'd; or the Plague of Envy, March 1746/47; an eight page published letter in The Gentleman's Magazine dealing in full with Hoadly's comedy, March 1747.;The Suspicious Husband's successful stage history suggests that audiences of the mid-eighteenth century enjoyed a more biting humour than was generally found in the new comedies of the mid-century. Hoadly's play combined the wit and grace of the earlier Restoration comedies, with the accepted morality of the later plays. The analysis of its success necessarily deals with both the eighteenth-century and more recent critical conceptions of the changing nature of comedy.



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