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William Congreve (24 January 1670 - 19 January 1729) was an English playwright and poet of the Restoration period. He is known for his clever, satirical dialogue and influence on the comedy of manners style of that period. He was also a minor political figure in the British Whig Party. Early life: William Congreve was born in Bardsey, Yorkshire, England near Leeds.[note 1] His parents were William Congreve (1637-1708) and Mary née Browning (1636?-1715). The family moved to London in 1672. They relocated again in 1674 to the Irish port town of Youghal where his father served as a lieutenant in the British army. Congreve spent his childhood in Ireland, where his father, a Cavalier, had settled during the reign of Charles II. Congreve was educated at Kilkenny College where he met Jonathan Swift, and at Trinity College in Dublin. Upon graduation, he matriculated in the Middle Temple in London to study law, but preferred literature, drama, and the fashionable life. Congreve used the pseudonym Cleophil, under which he published Incognita: or, Love and Duty reconcil'd in 1692. This early work, written when he was about 17 years of age, gained him recognition among men of letters and an entrance into the literary world. He became a disciple of John Dryden whom he met through gatherings of literary circles held at Will's Coffeehouse in the Covent Garden District of London. John Dryden supported Congreve's work throughout his life, taking the form of complimentary introductions written for some of Congreve's publications. Literary career: William Congreve shaped the English comedy of manners through his use of satire and well-written dialogue. Congreve achieved fame in 1693 when he wrote some of the most popular English plays of the Restoration period. This period was distinguished by the fact that female roles were beginning to be played predominately by women, and was evident in Congreve's work. One of Congreve's favorite actresses was Mrs. Anne Bracegirdle, who performed many of the female lead roles in his plays. His first play The Old Bachelor, written to amuse himself while convalescing, was produced at the Drury Lane Theatre in 1693 and later produced by the Theatre Royale. It was recognized as a success, and ran for a two-week period when it opened. Congreve's mentor John Dryden gave the production rave reviews and proclaimed it to be a brilliant first piece. The second play to be produced was called The Double-Dealer which was not nearly as successful as the first production. By the age of thirty, he had written four comedies, including Love for Love (premiered 30 April 1695) staged in Lincoln's Inn Field which was nearly as well received as the first major success for Congreve, and The Way of the World (premiered March 1700). This play was a failure at the time of production but is seen as one of his masterpieces today, and is still revived. He wrote one tragedy, The Mourning Bride (1697) which was extremely popular at the time of creation but is now one of his least regarded dramas. After the production of Love for Love, Congreve became one of the managers for the Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1695. During that time, he wrote public occasional verse. As a result of his success and literary merit, he was awarded one of the five positions of commissioner for licensing hackney coaches. Congreve's career as a playwright was successful but brief. He only wrote five plays, authored from 1693 to 1700, in total. This was partly in response to changes in taste, as the public turned away from the sort of high-brow sexual comedy of manners in which he specialized. Congreve may have been forced off of the stage due to growing concerns about the morality of his theatrical comedies....