“Shadow owes its birth to light.”
John Gay was born on this day in Barnstaple, England in 1685. We are celebrating the 327th anniversary of his birth.
Gay was a poet and dramatist. His most famous work was the Beggar’s Opera, but he wrote several other satirical plays. The Beggar’s Opera is considered the first successful ballad opera, and the predecessor of the popular operetta that would take hold on the English stage a century or so later with Gilbert and Sullivan.
He was a contemporary of Jonathan Swift and Alexander Pope. He studied music with George Frideric Handel.
Gay died at 47 and was buried in Poet’s Corner of Westminster Abbey. His epitaph is from the Beggar’s Opera “Life is a jest, and all things show it: I thought so once and now I know it.”