Elizabeth Griffith

Elizabeth Griffith

Elizabeth Griffith

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Elizabeth Griffith (née Griffith) (1720 – 5 January 1793), sometimes also credited Elizabeth Griffiths, was an 18th-century Irish dramatist, fiction writer, essayist and actress, best known for her edition of Shakespeare's comedies published in 1775.


Griffith was born in Glamorgan, Glamorganshire, Wales to Dublin theatre manager Thomas Griffith and his wife Jane Foxcroft Griffith sometime in the 1720s, though more recent scholarship suggests she was born in 1727. Very little about Griffith's early life is known. Her father, who had doted on her, died in 1744. The family was rocked by sudden financial insecurity and the seventeen-year-old Griffith began seeking means to earn her own keep, likely taking small provincial acting jobs. She certainly eventually became a professional actress; her theatrical debut occurred on October 13, 1749, and in her two-year career on the stage she played such roles as Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Cordelia in King Lear, Sylvia in The Double Gallant, and Ismene in Phaedra and Hippolitus, among others. Though she was not formally educated beyond what was considered appropriate for her gender (with some guidance in polite literature and social graces), her acting career gave her exposure to many different writers and...
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