George Colman the Elder

Personal data
Date of birth
Date of death
George Colman the Elder
George Colman the First

Father of George Colman the Younger. Colman studied law at Christ Church, Oxford and was called to the bar in London in 1757. From 1754 to 1756 he edited The Connoisseur together with Bonnell Thornton. He was also a member of the infamous Nonsense Club with Thornton, Robert Lloyd, William Cowper and others.

He became a close friend of David Garrick and began writing and producing plays. Of his own plays, Polly Honeycombe (1760) and especially The Jealous Wife (1761) were great successes. He also co-wrote The Clandestine Marriage (1766) with David Garrick. He owned and/or managed first Covent Garden Theatre (?-1774) and the theatre at Haymarket (1777-?). In 1768 he became a member of The Literary Club to which Boswell himself was admitted some years later. In 1774 his The Man of Business, inspired by the dealings of the failed banker Alexander Fordyce, was performed

Colman was one of the pall-bearers at Dr Johnson's funeral.

Life with Boswell

Boswell met him at Garrick's on May 3, 1763 describing him as "a sensible, clever, agreeable little man". They saw a a lot more of each other esp. from the time when Boswell himself was admitted to the Literary Club. "When Boswell, at the Literary Club, expressed himself as 'filled with belief' in the second sight, he was advised by Colman to 'cork it up'." ([WWB], p. 92)

Boswell saw a performance of Polly Honeycomb at Drury Lane on May 12, 1763, "at which [he] laughed a good deal".