Who said: "Hell hath no fury.... like a woman scorned"

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"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." - William Congreve

William Congreve (1670-1729) wrote some of the most popular English plays of the Restoration period (the period from 1660 when the monarchy was restablished in Britain after a 10 year period as a Republic) but is perhaps best remembered for his 1697 tragedy, The Mourning Bride, the source of his two most famous, albeit misquoted, quotes.

"Music has charms to soothe a savage breast" (often misquoted as "beast"), and
"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned," (usually misquoted as "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned")

Congreve was born in West Yorkshire, England in 1670 but grew up in Ireland. After attending Trinity College, Dublin, where he met Jonathan Swift and became life-long friends, he went to London to study law but found himself pulled towards the world of drama. In his first seven years as a playwright he wrote four comedies in addition to his one tragedy, The Mourning Bride, and enjoyed considerable success; but by the time he was thirty his dramatic star was on the wane as public taste shifted against his particular style of 'comedy of manners'.

Thus, he withdrew from the theater and lived the rest of his life on the earnings from his plays, while writing the occasional poem and holding a few minor political positions. He never married but was known for his friendships with prominent actresses and noblewomen, including Henrietta Godolphin, 2nd Duchess of Marlborough (daughter of the famous general John Churchill, later 1st Duke of Marlborough) with whom he had a daughter, Mary.

He died in 1729 and was buried in Westminster Abbey, in an area in the South Transept known as Poets' Corner for the number of poets, playwrights and writers buried or commemorated there, starting with Geoffrey Chaucer in 1400.

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This quote & biography originally ran in an issue of BookBrowse's membership magazine. Full Membership Features & Benefits.

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