Thomas Otway, an English poet, born at Trotton, Sussex, March 3, 1651, died in London, April 14, 1685. He was educated at Winchester and at Christchurch, Oxford, but left the university without taking a degree, and went to London. In 1672 he attempted to become an actor, but failed in his first appearance, and never went on the stage again. The next three years he led a dissolute life. His first piece, the tragedy of "Alcibiades," appeared in 1675. "Don Carlos," which appeared in 1676, was very successful, and "got more money than any preceding modern tragedy." In 1677 his tragedy of "Titus and Berenice," translated from Racine, and his farce, " The Cheats of Scapin," from Moliere, were acted; and the same year he produced a comedy entitled " Friendship in Fashion," remarkable for its want of wit and decency, and which, though considered "very diverting" at the time, was hissed off the stage in 1749 for its immorality. In 1677 Otway received a commission as cornet in a regiment of horse designed for Flanders; but the troops being shortly after disbanded, he returned to London miserably poor, and began again to write. In 1680 he produced the tragedy of "Caius Ma-rius," which met with considerable success.
In this play and in "The Poet's Complaint to the Muse," published the same year, he satirized the whig party. His tragedy of "The Orphan" appeared in 1680. In 1(581 he produced "The Soldier's Fortune," and in 1684 its second part, " The Atheists," both of which were successful. His greatest work, "Venice Preserved," was first performed in 1682, and is still frequently acted. Otway wrote also some minor poems, and translated from the French the " History of the Triumvirate." His latter days were passed in great poverty, but the story that he died of starvation is now discredited. Pope says that he died of a fever.