David Mallet

  Male      Scottish      Dramatist

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David Mallet (or Malloch) (c.1705–1765) was a Scottish dramatist.

He was educated at the University of Edinburgh, and went to London in 1723 to work as a private tutor. There he became friendly with Alexander Pope, James Thomson, and other literary figures including Henry St John, Viscount Bolingbroke.

His best-known work was written in the same year: William and Margaret, adapted from a traditional ballad. In 1740, he collaborated with Thomson on a masque, Alfred, which was the vehicle for "Rule, Britannia!". His other plays and poetry (e.g. Amyntor and Theodora), popular at the time, are largely forgotten, but Bolingbroke's writings were edited and published by Mallet in 1754.

Mallet was probably the second son of James Malloch of Dunruchan, a well-to-do tenant-farmer on Lord Drummond's Perthshire estate, a Roman Catholic, and a member of the outlawed Clan MacGregor. The household suffered during the Jacobite Rebellion of 1715. Mallet gave his age as 28 in 1733, and was therefore born about 1705. He seems to have been educated at the parish school of Crieff under John Ker.

In 1717 Mallet was acting as janitor in Edinburgh High School. In 1720 he became resident tutor to the sons of Mr. Home of Dreghorn; he held the post till 1723, studied at the same time at the University of Edinburgh (1721–2, 1722–3), and formed a friendship with a fellow-student, James Thomson the poet, a future collaborator. In July 1723 he accepted the post of tutor to the sons of the Duke of Montrose. Leaving the university without a degree, he went in August to London, and then to the duke's seat at Shawford, near Winchester. He lived with the family till 1731, mainly in London and Shawford. In 1726 he received the honorary degree of M.A. from the University of Aberdeen, ostensibly for an English poem in imitation of Ker's Donaides. Early in 1727 he made a continental tour with his pupils. Towards the end of 1731 he left the Montrose family, and went to Gosfield in Essex, to act as tutor to the stepson of John Knight, to whose wife, formerly Mrs. Newsham, he had been recommended by Alexander Pope.

On 2 November 1733 Mallet, with his pupil, matriculated at St. Mary Hall, Oxford, where he resided fairly regularly till 27 September 1734. On 5 March 1735 he received, at his request, the degree of M.A. from the University of Edinburgh, and on the 15th of that month he graduated B.A., and on 6 April M.A. of the University of Oxford. He was again abroad in 1735...

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