John Gay


John Gay, born in Barnstaple, was briefly apprenticed to a mercer in London. About 1710 he made the acquaintance of Swift, Pope, and Arbuthnot. Gay spent much of his life pursuing patronage, acting as secretary to the duchess of Monmouth (1712-14) and Lord Clarendon (1714). In 1723 he attracted patronage from the Duke and Duchess of Queensberry, who found him a small sinecure. But Gay made his fortune with The Beggar's Opera (1728), perhaps the greatest theatrical success of the century. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.


1708Wine. A Poem.
1712On a Miscellany of Poems. To Bernard Lintott.
1714Araminta. A Town Eclogue.
1714The Shepherd's Week I. Monday; or, the Squabble.
1714The Shepherd's Week II. Tuesday; or, the Ditty.
1714The Shepherd's Week III. Wednesday; or, the Dumps.
1714The Shepherd's Week IV. Thursday; or, the Spell.
1714The Shepherd's Week V. Friday; or, the Dirge.
1714The Shepherd's Week VI. Saturday; or, the Flights.
1714The Shepherd's Week: Prologue.
1714The Shepherd's Week: The Proeme to the Courteous Reader.
1716The Toilet. A Town Eclogue.
1720The Birth of the Squire. An Eclogue. In imitation of the Pollio of Virgil.
1720The Espousal. A Sober Eclogue. Between two of the People called Quakers.
1720The Funeral. A Town Eclogue.
1720The Tea-Table. A Town Eclogue.
1727Fable XLVII. The Court of Death.


Wine. 1708.
The present state of wit, to a friend in the country. 1711.
The mohocks. A tragi-comical farce. 1712.
Rural sports. 1713.
The wife of Bath: a comedy. 1713.
The fan. 1714.
The shepherd's week. In six pastorals. 1714.
The what d'ye call it: a tragi-comi-pastoral farce. 1715.
Three hours after marriage [with Pope and Arbuthnot]. 1717.
Poems on several occasions. 2 vols, 1720, 1731.
The captives. 1724.
To a lady on her passion for old china. 1725.
Fables. 1727.
The beggar's opera. 1728.
Polly, an opera. 1729.
Acis and Galatea: an English pastoral opera. 1732.
Achilles, an opera. 1733.
Fables. Volume the second. 1738.
The distress'd wife. 1743.
The rehearsal at Goatham. 1754.
Works. 4 vols, 1770.
Poems and fables. 2 vols, 1772.
Poetical works. 3 vols, 1777.
Poetical, dramatic, and miscellaneous works. 6 vols, 1795.