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(30 June 1685 – 4 December 1732 / Barnstaple, England)

John Gay
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John Gay was an English poet and dramatist and member of the Scriblerus Club. He is best remembered for The Beggar's Opera (1728), a ballad opera. The characters, including Captain Macheath and Polly Peachum, became household names.

Early Life

Gay was born in Barnstaple, England and was educated at the town's grammar school. On leaving school he was apprenticed to a silk mercer in London, but being weary, according to Samuel Johnson, "of either the restraint or the servility of his occupation", he soon returned to Barnstaple, where he was educated by his uncle, the Rev. John Hanmer, the Nonconformist ... more »

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Quotations

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  • O ruddier than the cherry,
    O sweeter than the berry,
    O Nymph more bright
    Than moonshine night,
    Like kidlings blithe and merry.
    Ripe as the melting cluster,
    No...
    John Gay (1685-1732), British poet. Acis and Galatea (l. 1-10). . . New Oxford Book of English Verse, The, 1250-1950. Helen Gardner, ed. (1972) Ox...
  • ''Lions, wolves, and vultures don't live together in herds, droves or flocks. Of all animals of prey, man is the only sociable one. Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.''
    John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist. Lockit, in The Beggar's Opera, act 3, sc. 2.
  • ''But his kiss was so sweet, and so closely he pressed,
    That I languished and pined till I granted the rest.''
    John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist. Lucy, in The Beggar's Opera, act 3, sc. 1, air 41.
  • ''Sure men were born to lie, and women to believe them!''
    John Gay (1685-1732), British dramatist. Lucy, in The Beggar's Opera, act 2, sc. 13.
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