Thomas Otway (1652 — 1685) was a playwright and actor. There are many colourful accounts of his death; the most popular, but not necessarily authentic, is that of Theophilis Cibber in Dr. Johnson's Lives of the Poets. Hiding from his creditors in a pub on Tower Hill, Otway

driven at last to the most grievous necessity, ventured out of his lurking place, almost naked and shivering, and went into a coffee-house on Tower Hill, where he saw a gentleman, of whom he had some knowledge, and of whom he sollicited the loan of a shilling. The gentleman was quite shocked, to see the author of "Venice Preserv'd" begging bread, and compassionately put into his hand a guinea. Mr. Otway, having thanked his benefactor, retired, and changed the guinea to purchase a roll; as his stomach was full of wind from excess of fasting, the first mouthful choked him and instantaneously put a period to his days.

He is buried in the churchyard of St. Clement Danes.


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Last modified 22 January 2002