William Congreve is best-known today for his last original play,

The Way of the World

, widely recognized as the greatest comedy since Shakespeare’s. Congreve was known during his lifetime for four comedies, a tragedy, a novella, two librettos, translations, and occasional poetry, almost all of which were written during the first half of his life. He was seen as the natural and anointed successor of Dryden while still in his mid-twenties, and his plays maintained great popularity throughout the eighteenth century. His reputation declined in the nineteenth century when even the best plays of the late seventeenth century were considered too indecent for polite audiences. It recovered gradually over the course of the twentieth century, but only his final two comedies,

Love for Love


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Citation: Corman, Brian. "William Congreve". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 10 October 2006 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=983, accessed 13 June 2024.]

983 William Congreve 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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