AS SEEN IN:
"The Tragedy of John Milton (August 13, 1660)"
'You Are There'
AS PLAYED BY:
Sir William Davenant (baptised 3 March 1606 – 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 both the Caroline and Restoration eras, and who was active both before and after the English Civil War and the Interregnum.
Following the death of Ben Jonson in 1637, Davenant was named Poet Laureate in 1638. He was a supporter of King Charles I in the English Civil War. In 1641, he was declared guilty of high treason but was, ironically, knighted two years later by the king following the siege of Gloucester. He was then appointed Emissary to France in 1645 and treasurer of the colony of Virginia in 1649 by Charles II. The following year, he was made lieutenant governor of Maryland, but was captured at sea, imprisoned, and sentenced to death. He spent all of 1651 in the Tower of London, where he was imprisoned at the time "Gondibert" was written. Having been released in 1652, he was only pardoned in 1654.
In order to avoid the strict laws of censorship in force in all public places at the time, he turned a room of his home, Rutland House, into a private theatre where his works, and that of others considered seditious, could be performed. A performance of his "The Siege of Rhodes" at Rutland House in 1656 is considered to be the first performance of an English opera, and also included England's first known professional actress, Mrs. Coleman.
After suffering from syphilis for nearly four decades, he died in London on April 7, 1668, shortly after his final play, The Man's the Master, was first performed. He is buried in Poets' Corner at Westminster Abbey where the inscription on his tablet reads "O rare Sir William Davenant."