Linley, Elizabeth (1754–1792)

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Linley, Elizabeth (1754–1792)

English soprano. Name variations: Eliza Ann Linley; Elizabeth Sheridan; Mrs. Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Born in Bath, England, in 1754; died in Bristol, England, in 1792; daughter of Thomas Linley, the Elder (1732–1795, a composer); sister of Maria Linley (1763–1784) and Mary Linley (1758–1787) who were also singers; married Richard Brinsley Sheridan (the playwright), in 1773 (died 1816); children: son Thomas Sheridan (1775–1817, a poet, who became colonial treasurer at Cape of Good Hope and married Caroline Henrietta Sheridan nee Callander).

Elizabeth Linley was born in 1754 in Bath, England, the daughter of the English musical composer Thomas Linley, who would eventually compose music for his son-in-law's comic opera, The Duenna. Her sisters Mary Linley and Maria Linley were also singers. Her granddaughters were Caroline Norton, Helen Selina Blackwood , and Lady Georgiana Sheridan .

Elizabeth Linley sang in public as early as 12 years old, and was admired not only for her exceptional voice, but for her delicate beauty, which has been immortalized by the great painters Reynolds and Gainsborough. Linley had many suitors, but the brilliant playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan gained her heart, and they were married in 1773, after eloping to France in 1772. Her life with the unpredictable genius of The Rivals and School for Scandal was not always happy, but she was a devoted wife until her death.

Elizabeth Linley was spoken of in glowing terms by those who knew her. A bishop declared her to be "the link between an angel and a woman," and the poet Thomas Moore wrote: "There has seldom perhaps existed a finer combination of all those qualities that attracted both eye and heart than this accomplished and lovely person exhibited."

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Linley, Elizabeth (1754–1792)

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