Thus wrote William Hazlitt of Sheridan, whom he thought shone ‘like Hesperus’ among the comic writers of the eighteenth century. As a playwright Sheridan had a brief but brilliant career, and between the ages of twenty-four and twenty-eight he wrote two of the funniest plays in our literature, The Rivals and The School for Scandal, and a wonderful farce, The Critic. Ingenious plots, agile and eloquent wit, and an unerring eye for the comic situation characterize Sheridan’s drama. Never an insistent moralist, he delighted in deflating hypocrisy and in satirizing the manners of his age. As Eric Ramp writes in the Introduction, while Sheridan was no great innovator, “the three comedies by which he is now known are in many ways the best that Georgian theatre has to offer and they are comedies which, over the last two hundred years, have added much, as Dr Johnson said about Garrick, to ‘the gaiety of nations’”.