Elizabeth Ann Linley

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"Mrs Richard Brinsley Sheridan", aged 31, by Gainsborough (National Gallery of Art)
"The Linley Sisters", by Thomas Gainsborough (Dulwich Picture Gallery) - Elizabeth (left, standing, aged 18) with her sister Mary
Linley (right, with lyre), in the company of other "Bluestockings" (1778)

Elizabeth Ann Sheridan (née Linley) (7 September 1754 – 28 June 1792) was the first daughter (and second of twelve children) of the composer Thomas Linley and his wife Mary Johnson, and was herself the wife of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan.

Life[edit]

Of the Linley children destined for musical careers, it is said[citation needed] that Elizabeth had the greatest talent and beauty. Trained by her father at an early age, her first performance was at Covent Garden Theatre aged 12, alongside her brother in The Fairy Favour on 31 January 1767. In May Elizabeth sang and Thomas played the violin in a concert at Bath. Despite her growing reputation and the London concert rooms readily available to her as a result, her father forced her to promise to marry Walter Long, after much protest, to prevent her taking a theatrical career and to bring wealth into the Linley family. On 26 June 1771, a new comedy, called The Maid of Bath, opened at the Haymarket Theatre, dramatising her story.

Elizabeth had many proposals of marriage, but on 18 March 1772 she eloped with Richard Brinsley Sheridan to France. However, they were both underage and so the marriage was invalid until Elizabeth’s father eventually consented officially on 13 April 1772 at Marylebone, London, one day after her last public appearance. In 1772 Sheridan fought a famous duel against Captain Thomas Mathews in defence of Elizabeth's character, which Mathews had defamed in a newspaper article. She suffered many miscarriages due to poor health, but she finally delivered a son, Tom (1775–1819). She died of tuberculosis at Bristol in 1792 aged 38.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thomas Linley
 
Mary Johnson
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Richard Brinsley Sheridan,
1751-1816
 
Elizabeth,
1754-92
 
Thomas,
1756-78
 
Mary,
1758-87
 
Richard Tickell
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Thomas Sheridan,
1775-1819
 
Samuel,
1760 - 1778
 
Maria,
1763-84
 
Ozias,
1765-1831
 
William,
(1771-1835)
 
5
other
children

Sources[edit]

  • Chedzoy, Alan. Sheridan's Nightingale: The Story of Elizabeth Linley. London: Allison & Busby, 1997.
  • Highfill, Phillip H., Kalman A. Burnim, and Edward A. Langhans. A Biographical Dictionary of Actors...and Other Stage Personnel in London 1660-1800. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1982.
  • Short biography
  • 'The Maid of Bath' - a print of Elizabeth Linley from the Holbourne Museum of Art