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She Stoops to Conquer

Oliver Goldsmith


She Stoops to Conquer is one of the few 18th century plays that has stood the test of time. First produced in 1773 in Covent Garden, it has been revived many times—once even running for 1,777 performances in the 1860s.

The events take place over the course of a single evening in a country house where two young ladies await potential suitors. The young squire of the household, a prankster and layabout (and intended for one of the young ladies by the family matriarch), sets off a comic chain of mistaken identities and farcical intrigues when he encounters the potential suitors in a nearby tavern, and sends them to the house with the belief that they’re visiting an inn.

The impact of She Stoops to Conquer was such that it was heralded as restoring “laughing comedy” to the English stage after decades of sentimentality. It also stands as the origin of the phrase, “Ask me no questions and I’ll tell you no lies.”

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