Garrick, David (1717–79). Actor and manager. Reared in Lichfield, Garrick accompanied Johnson to London (1737), but soon abandoned law studies for the wine trade; the appeal of acting and overnight success as Richard III (1741) led to further change, since his naturalistic style, expressive eyes, and versatility refreshed audiences weary of attitudinizing. Having purchased a share of Drury Lane's lease, he set about reforming plays, players, and audiences, with modifications to theatre layout, stage design, and eventual introduction of concealed lighting. Despite fluctuating fortunes and accusations of vanity and meanness, he raised his theatre from penury to prosperity. A devotion to Shakespeare motivated reclamation of his texts from Restoration adaptations, though not always creditably, and his cherished Shakespeare Jubilee at Stratford-upon-Avon (1769) was washed out. Garrick's own farces and burlesques have faded into obscurity, but this contributor to the ‘gaiety of nations’ lies buried in Westminster abbey.
A. S. Hargreaves
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