In the mid-1730s Sam’s basic situation was that he had applied for teaching jobs that he didn’t get, he and his wife had established their own school which didn’t attract enough students, and Sam had applied to be a writer for the Gentleman’s Magazine but wasn’t hired. He needs another plan and so in 1737 he and one of his former students, named David Garrick, leave Lichfield and head off to London to pursue their careers. Frankly, they both do exceptionally well for themselves: David wanted to act and he became one of the pre-eminent actors and theatre producers of the era; and of course Sam wanted to write, and he became the chief man of letters of that same era.
I talk about some of the details and the greater scope of their lives and careers in London in my podcast (see link at the end), so I thought I’d dedicate this blog post to showing you some images. Sometimes when someone talks about a time that was nearly 300 years ago, it can be hard to visualize what things were like and what people looked like.
There aren’t many portraits of Sam at this stage of his life (he was in his late 20s), but these are a couple of typical portraits of him during various stages:
These are some of David Garrick:
That third image of Garrick is of him playing Richard III, for which he was famous.
This is an engraving of Sam’s wife Tetty, who stayed behind in Lichfield while Sam and Garrick made their way to London. She joined Sam later.
(Image copyright © National Portrait Gallery)
As biographer John Wain points out, Tetty likely didn’t end up with the life that she imagined and hoped for. They spent long and frequent periods apart, and when she was in London with him, Sam was busy working.
So, there you go. If you’d like to hear a bit more about Sam and Tetty and David, check out my podcast below. I still call it 3 More Minutes about Sam, but, er, they’re getting longer, because there’s more to say. Happy listening.