Fun Facts Friday: Thomas Otway

March 3, 2023

Thomas Otway (3 March, 1652 – 14 April, 1685) was an dramatist, poet, and playwright from England. He is best known for his play Venice Preserv’d.

Fun Facts Friday: Thomas Otway
Painting William Blake
Works by Thomas Otway*

Fun Facts about Thomas Otway:

  1. Thomas Otway was born in Trotton, Sussex. His father, Humphrey, was a curate of the parish, and later before rector of a neighboring parish.
  2. Following the work, the family moved to Woolbeding, where young Thomas was expected to follow in the footsteps of his father and become a priest. However, he never finished his studies, but during his time in Oxford he found his love for books.
  3. Mr. Otway moved to London and became an actor. Unfortunately, he had a debilitating case of stage fright and thus his career was over after just one play.
  4. Soon afterwards, Thomas Otway realized that writing might be his calling. He found a muse, actress Elizabeth Barry who starred in several of his plays, and began writing. However, Ms. Barry was spoken for by the Earl of Rochester, even though she still flirted with Otway, whose poor finances didn’t help the situation.
    So, he did what poor, depressed, forlorned men, with smarts and connections did for centuries before, and centuries after – he got a commission in the army.
  5. While serving with an English regiment he didn’t get to see the production of his first comedy, Friendship in fashion.
  6. Serving in the Netherlands he continued to write until the troops were disbanded in 1679. The soldiers were paid with depreciated paper and were told to find their way home. Arriving in London in a dirty state, he utilized this experience in one of his plays.
  7. Thomas Otway continued to write and his plays were continuously produced but he got his big break in 1680 when two of his plays became a hit. The Orphan or, The Unhappy Marriage and Venice Preserv’d, modeled after Shakespeare’s plays, is now considered a masterpiece.
  8. The Orphan or, The Unhappy Marriage was an homage to love for Elizabeth Barry. Venice Preserv’dwas about politics. The two plays made Thomas Otway famous, however he didn’t make much money.
  9. Otway’s plays are known for a “powerful presentation of human passions”, as well as their psychological credibility.
  10. Even though he had a reputation as a great playwright, Thomas Otway never made any money. He earned money as a tutor but died poor, apparently chocking on a piece of bread after begging for some money to buy one.
    He was 33 years old.

Works by Thomas Otway*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account, the money is usually spent on books


Thoms Otway – Wikipedia

Who was Thomas Otway? – Royal Shakespeare Company

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Fun Facts Friday: Thomas Otway
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Fun Facts Friday: Thomas Otway
Thomas Otway (3 March, 1652 – 14 April, 1685) was an dramatist, poet, and playwright from England. He is best known for his play Venice Preserv’d.
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Man of la Book - A Bookish Blog
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