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Stealing His Thunder

Posted by Elyse Bruce on February 16, 2010

John Dennis (1657 – 1734) was an English critic, dramatist and largely unsuccessful playwright whose sense of his own importance approached mania.

His play Appius and Virginia (1709) was not a success and management of Drury Lane Theatre, where it was playing at the time, withdrew it.  Specifically for the play, Dennis had invented a sound effect machine that very closely approximated the sound of thunder.

Later at a performance of Macbeth, Dennis heard thunder produced by his method and said of the purloined idea,  “That is my thunder, by God; the villains will play my thunder, but not my play!”


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