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Biography of David Garrick

Portrait of David Garrick

David Garrick was an actor and theatre manager in the eighteenth century.

When and Where was David Garrick Born?

19th February 1717, Hereford, Herefordshire, England.

Family Background:

David Garrick was the son of Peter Garrick a Captain in the English Army and Arabella Clough daughter of a Vicar Choral at Lichfield Cathedral of Irish extraction.


Lichfield Grammar School. Samuel Johnson’s Academy at Edial, Near Lichfield, Staffordshire. Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London.

Timeline of David Garrick:

1725: Birth of Garrick’s brother George.

1728: David Garrick visits Lisbon in Portugal to learn the wine trade.

1731: His father rejoins his regiment in Gibraltar.

1737: He goes to London with Samuel Johnson. Both have very little money in their pockets. He is enrolled in Lincoln’s Inn Fields but decides not to continue with the law. Death of his father.

1738: His elder brother Peter and he start a wine business in London and Lichfield with the help of £1,000 from his uncle. David works from London.

1740: His first dramatic works are premiered at Drury Lane Theatre including “Lethe or Aesop in the Shades” and “The Lying Valet.”

1741: Garrick appears in one of his first acting roles at Ipswich in “The Inconstant” by George Farquhar under the pseudonym of Mr Lydall. He debut’s in London as King Richard the Third at Goodman’s Fields and by the end of the year he is acting under his own name. Alexander Pope who watched him perform several times said: “that young man never had his equal as an actor, and he will never have a rival.”

1742: He plays Dublin during the summer where he was accompanied by Margaret (Peg) Woffington and later plays at Drury Lane in London.

1743: He leads an actors’ walkout at Drury Lane with his colleague Charles Macklin but is reinstated into the company in December.

1745: He becomes a co-manager with Richard Brinsley Sheridan in Dublin.

1746: Eva Maria Veigel the dancer arrives at the Haymarket Theatre. He acts at Covent Garden under the management of John Rich.

1747: David Garrick becomes a co-manager at Drury Lane Theatre with James Lacy. He is to manage and act there until he retires. Amongst many other dramatic parts he plays over seventeen Shakespearean characters.

1749: He marries Eva Maria Veigel a Vienneses Opera dancer on 22nd June. After his marriage he settles at a house at 27 Southampton Street, London.

Theatre Royal
The present Theatre Royal, Drury Lane opened in 1812. (copyright Anthony Blagg)

1751: Garrick plays the summer season in Paris.

1754: He is now financially better off and buys a country villa at Hampton.

1763: He goes on a long tour of France where he and his wife meet Denis Diderot one of the Philosophes then on to Milan, Florence Rome and Naples. Afterwards they travel to Venice and Munich where he contracts typhoid fever.

1768: The unauthorised version of his dramatic works are published which run to three volumes.

1769: He organises the Shakespeare celebrations at Stratford-Upon-Avon, which were a failure.

1772: Garrick moves house to No 5, The Adelphi Buildings.

1773: He plays Hamlet at Drury Lane.

1774: The official version of his dramatic works are published.

1775: He performs in his last season at Drury Lane theatre and sells his shares.

1776: David Garrick sets up a Theatrical Fund via a Bill through Parliament. His last performance is as Don Felix in “The Wonder” by Mrs Centlivre.

When and Where did he Die?

20th January 1779, London, England after catching a cold.

Age at Death:


Written Works:

1740: “Lethe or Aesop in the Shades” and “The Lying Valet”.
1747: “Miss in her Teens”.
1766: “The Clandestine Marriage” jointly with Colman.
1767: “The Guardian” “Linco’s Travels”.
1775: “Bon Ton, or Life Above Stairs”.


22nd June 1749 to Eva Maria Veigel a Viennese Opera dancer. (Married for over thirty years with no children).

Site of Grave:

Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey, London, England.

Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey, London
(copyright Anthony Blagg)

Places of Interest:


Visited Bath several times to take the waters.


Stone Roundel Commemorating Garrick in the Library of Birmingham, Centenary Square.


Monument to Garrick in Lichfield Cathedral.
Lichfield Garrick Theatre.


Theatre Museum, 1E Tavistock Street, WC2E 7PA.
Garrick Theatre on Charing Cross Road was named after him but did not open until 1889.
British Museum has a collection of the plays which he collected.