Sheridan was educated at Harrow School, and was to study law. However, his highly romantic elopement with Elizabeth Linley, and their subsequent marriage in 1773, put paid to such hopes. When he returned to London, he began writing for the stage. His first play, The Rivals, produced at Covent Garden in 1775, was not an immediate success, though it has gone on to become a standard of English literature.
Having quickly made his name and fortune, Sheridan bought a share in Drury Lane. His most famous play The School for Scandal (1777) is considered one of the greatest comedies of manners in English. It was followed by The Critic (1779).
Sheridan was also a Whig politician, entering parliament in 1780 under the sponsorship of Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. A great public speaker, he remained in parliament until 1812, and was a leading figure in the party.