Late in the eighteenth century, Sheridan told a publisher who asked for a
corrected copy of School for Scandal, that after nineteen years he was
still not satisfied with the text. Whether he ever completed a definitive text
is not known, but he may have continued to work on the play as late as 1815.
This late version, although not complete, shows some significant changes from an
earlier one that has long been accepted as the basic text. The manuscript is in
five hands: one appears to be either that of John Palmer (1742?-1798), the
original performer of Joseph Surface, the hypocritical brother in this popular
comedy, or, according to some scholars, that of George Steevens (1736-1800), the
commentator on Shakespeare and collaborator with Samuel Johnson.