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ARTHUR MURPHY (1727–1805)

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Originally appearing in Volume V19, Page 38 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ARTHUR MURPHY (1727–1805), Irish actor and dramatist, son of a Dublin merchant, was born at Clomquin, Roscommon, on the 27th of December 1727. From 1738 to 1744, under the name of Arthur French, he was a student at the English college at St Omer. He entered the counting-house of a merchant at Cork on recommendation of his uncle, Jeffery French, in 1747. A refusal to go to Jamaica alienated French's interest, and Murphy exchanged his situation for one in London. By the autumn of 1752 he was publishing the Gray's Inn Journal, a periodical in the style of the Spectator. Two years later he became an actor, and appeared in the title-roles of Richard III. and Othello; as Biron in Southerne's Fatal Marriage; and as Osmyn in Congreve's Mourning Bride. His first farce, The Apprentice, was given at Drury Lane on the 2nd of January 1756. It was followed, among other plays, by The Upholsterer (1957), The Orphan of China (1759), The Way to Keep Him (176o), All in the Wrong (1761), The Grecian Daughter (1772), and Know Your Own Mind (1777). These were almost all adaptations from the French, and were very successful, securing for their author both fame and wealth. Murphy edited a political periodical, called the Test, in support of Henry Fox, by whose influence he was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn, although he had been refused at the Middle Temple in 1757 on account of his connexion with the stage. Murphy also wrote a biography of Fielding, an essay on the life and genius of Samuel Johnson and translations of Sallust and Tacitus. Towards the close of his life the office of a commissioner of bankrupts and a pension of £200 were conferred upon him by government. He died on the 18th of June 1805.
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