(1751-1816) a British writer of plays, born in Ireland. He wrote a series of popular comedies, including The Rivals and School for Scandal, and was well known in London for his quick and intelligent humour. He became a friend of the Prince of Wales and several important politicians. In 1780 he became a Whig Member of Parliament, and held several important government positions. Although he had successful careers in politics and the theatre, he had many debts, and died in poverty.