George Colman the Elder was born in Florence in April 1732 while his father was stationed as a diplomatic envoy. His father died shortly after his birth, and Colman was placed in the care of William Pulteney, Lord of Bath. Colman attended a private school in Marylebone, followed by his studies at Westminster School. After his schooling, Colman moved to Oxford and met Bonnell Thornton, a parodist. Together, they founded The Connoisseur, a periodical which ran from 1754 - 1756, producing 140 issues. Colman returned to London in 1757, beginning his career as a barrister. Once his former caretaker, Lord of Bath, had passed in 1764, Colman stopped his law career and turned to a career in the theatre.
Colman produced his first play, Polly Honeycomb, in 1760, which became a great success. His next play, The Jealous Wife (1761), was inspired by the novel Tom Jones and made Colman famous. Since Colman had come into a small fortune from the passing of the Lord of Bath, Colman was able to produce many of his own plays. Colman even became a joint owner in the Covent Garden Theatre. Colman became acting manager of Covent Garden for seven years. During this time, he adapted several Shakespearian plays and directed the premiere of She Stoops to Conquer in 1773. In 1774, Colman sold his portion of the theatre to James Leake after health problems began to arise. In 1785, Colman became paralyized. By 1789, his brain function began to suffer and George Colman the Elder died on August 14, 1794.
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