A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature/Holcroft, Thomas

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Holcroft, Thomas (1745-1809). -- Dramatist, s. of a small shoemaker in London, passed his youth as a pedlar, and as a Newmarket stable boy. A charitable person having given him some education he became a schoolmaster, but in 1770 went on the page 195provincial stage. He then took to writing plays, and was the first to introduce the melodrama into England. Among his plays, The Road to Ruin (1792) is the best, and is still acted; others were Duplicity (1781), and A Tale of Mystery. Among his novels are Alwyn (1780), and Hugh Trevor, and he wrote the well-known song, Gaffer Gray. H. was a man of stern and irascible temper, industrious and energetic, and a sympathiser with the French Revolution.