Richard Brinsley Sheridan: Poetry

Scope and Content

Two stanzas of ten lines each by Richard Sheridan, beginning 'When tis night and the midwatch is set', copied in the hand of William Blake on the back of part of the title-page of William Hayley's Ballads (1802). The lines are accompanied by a letter from P.J. Dobell to Geoffrey Keynes, 6 September 1938, and part of a letter to Keynes from an unknown correspondent, 28 January 1965. There is also an extract from a sale catalogue relating to the stanzas.

Administrative / Biographical History

Richard Brinsley Sheridan (1751-1816), dramatist and politician, was born in Dublin on 30 October 1751, and educated at Harrow, 1762-1768. A production of his comedy The rivals was a failure in 1775, but he found success that year with The duenna, which played for seventy-five nights at Covent Garden. After acquiring a controlling share in the Drury Lane Theatre in 1776, Sheridan ran successful productions of his plays The rivals, A trip to Scarborough and The school for scandal, 1777; The critic, 1779; and Pizarro, 1799. He was elected M.P. for Stafford in 1780, and was appointed Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, 1782, and Secretary to the Treasury, 1783. Sheridan was M.P. for Westminster, 1806-1807, and Ilchester, 1807-1812, and Treasurer of the Navy, 1806-1807. He died at Savile Row, London, on 7 July 1816.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Received from the library of Sir Geoffrey Keynes, 1982.

Other Finding Aids


Archivist's Note

Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Richard Sheridan in Sidney Lee, ed., Dictionary of national biography, vol. XVIII (London, 1909), pp. 78-85.

Custodial History

The stanzas were purchased by Bertram Dobell with the Hayley manuscripts before 1914. They were acquired by P.J. Dobell in 1938, who sold them subsequently to Sir Geoffrey Keynes.


The stanzas were published in The vocal miscellany (1820). The collection is no. 502 in Sir Geoffrey Keynes, Bibliotheca bibliographici (London, 1964), p 54.