Davenant, Sir William

Davenant, Sir William
or William D'Avenant

born 1606, Oxford, Eng.
died April 7, 1668, London

British poet, playwright, and theatre manager.

Early works include the comedy The Witts (licensed 1634) and a volume of poems, Madagascar (1638). He was made poet laureate in 1638. Involved in intrigues during the English Civil Wars, he was imprisoned at the Tower of London, where he worked on his verse epic Gondibert (1651). Later he made the first attempt to revive English drama (banned under Oliver Cromwell) and brought the first opera, painted stage sets, and female actress-singer to the English public stage. After the Restoration he continued playwriting and founded a playhouse.

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▪ English writer
Davenant also spelled  D'Avenant  
born February 1606, Oxford, Eng.
died April 7, 1668, London

      English poet, playwright, and theatre manager who was made poet laureate on the strength of such successes as The Witts (licensed 1634), a comedy; the masques The Temple of Love, Britannia Triumphans, and Luminalia; and a volume of poems, Madagascar (published 1638).

      Shakespeare (Shakespeare, William) was apparently Davenant's godfather, and gossip held that the famous playwright may even have been his father. Davenant became a page in London in 1622 and later served a famous literary courtier, Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke. Meanwhile he was writing his early revenge tragedies, such as Albovine (produced c. 1629), and tragicomedies, such as The Colonel. After he had served in continental wars, his engaging, reckless personality and his plays and occasional verses attracted the patronage of Queen Henrietta Maria. Davenant was appointed to the poet laureateship in 1638, after the death of Ben Jonson the previous year, and composed several court masques.

      In 1641 Davenant risked his life in a bungled army plot, and the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642 nullified a royal patent he had secured to build a theatre. A supporter of King Charles I during the Civil War, he was knighted by the king in 1643 for running supplies across the English Channel. Later, having joined the defeated and exiled Stuart court in Paris, he began his uncompleted verse epic Gondibert (1651), a tale of chivalry in 1,700 quatrains. After the execution of Charles I, his queen sent Davenant to aid the Royalist cause in America as lieutenant governor of Maryland. Davenant's ship was captured in the English Channel, however, and he was imprisoned in the Tower of London until 1654.

      In 1656 Davenant made the first attempt to revive English drama, which had been banned under Cromwell, with The first day's Entertainment (produced 1656), a work disguised under the title Declamations and Musick. This work led to his creating the first public opera in England, The Siege of Rhodes Made a Representation by the Art of Prospective in Scenes, And the Story sung in Recitative Musick (produced 1656). In The Siege he introduced three innovations to the English public stage: an opera, painted stage sets, and a female actress-singer.

      In 1660, after the Restoration, he was granted one of two new royal patents to establish new acting companies and founded the new Duke of York's Playhouse in Lincoln's Inn Fields. As manager, director, and playwright, he continued to produce, write, and adapt plays. The charter was later transferred to Covent Garden. Together with the poet John Dryden, he adapted Shakespeare's The Tempest in 1667.

Additional Reading
Mary Edmond, Rare Sir William Davenant: Poet Laureate, Playwright, Civil War General, Restoration Theatre Manager (1987).

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Universalium. 2010.

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  • Davenant, Sir William — o William D Avenant (1606, Oxford, Inglaterra–7 abr. 1668, Londres). Poeta, dramaturgo y empresario teatral británico. Sus primeros trabajos abarcan la comedia The Witts [Los Witts] (autorizada en 1634) y un volumen de poemas, Madagascar (1638).… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • DAVENANT, SIR WILLIAM —    an English playwright, born at Oxford, who succeeded Ben Jonson as poet laureate, and was for a time manager of Drury Lane; was knighted by Charles I. for his zeal in the Royalist cause; his theatrical enterprise had small success during the… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • William Davenant — Sir William Davenant (Oxford, 28 de febrero de 1606 7 de abril de 1668) es un poeta y dramaturgo inglés, cuyas obras son características de la literatura de la Restauración inglesa. Era hijo de Jane Sheperd Davenant y de John Davenant, p …   Wikipedia Español

  • DAVENANT (W.) — DAVENANT sir WILLIAM (1606 1668) Né à Oxford; on dit que Shakespeare le tint sur les fonts baptismaux. C’est peut être ce qui lui donna l’amour du théâtre et de la poésie. Ce fils de tavernier (respectable), qui eut l’insigne honneur de succéder… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • sir — /serr/, n. 1. a respectful or formal term of address used to a man: No, sir. 2. (cap.) the distinctive title of a knight or baronet: Sir Walter Scott. 3. (cap.) a title of respect for some notable personage of ancient times: Sir Pandarus of Troy …   Universalium

  • William — /wil yeuhm/, n. 1. a word formerly used in communications to represent the letter W. 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning will and helmet. * * * (as used in expressions) Huddie William Ledbetter Aberhart William George William… …   Universalium

  • sir — (Voz inglesa.) ► sustantivo masculino Tratamiento honorífico empleado por los británicos. * * * sir (ingl.; pronunc. [ser]) m. *Tratamiento de respeto usado en Inglaterra delante de un nombre de hombre o para dirigirse a la persona de que se… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • William — (as used in expressions) William Alexander Abbott Aberhart, William George William Russell Amis, Sir Kingsley (William) Ashley, William Henry Ashton, Sir Frederick (William Mallandaine) Barkley, Alben W(illiam) Bartram, William William Allen… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Davenant, or D'Avenant, Sir William — (1606 1668)    Poet and dramatist, was b. at Oxf., where his f. kept an inn, which Shakespeare was in the habit of visiting. This had some influence on the future poet, who claimed to be Shakespeare s natural son. D., ed. at Lincoln Coll., was… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • William Davenant — Sir William Davenant (baptised 3 March, 1606 ndash; April 7, 1668), also spelled D Avenant, was an English poet and playwright. Along with Thomas Killigrew, Davenant was one of the rare figures in English Renaissance theatre whose career spanned… …   Wikipedia

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