George Colman was born in Florence, Italy, in April 1732, where his father was stationed as British Resident Minister to the court of the Grand duke of Tuscany.
Before his first birthday Colman's father had died and his well-being was now in the hands of his Father's sister and her husband, William Pulteney, the later Lord Bath
Colman initially attended a private school in Marylebone before being sent to the exclusive Westminster School.
From there Colman went to Christ Church, Oxford. Whilst there he met Bonnell Thornton, the parodist, and together they founded 'The Connoisseur' periodical (1754-1756), which ran for 140 editions.
After taking his degree in 1755 Colman left Oxford and entered Lincoln's Inn. He was called to the bar in 1757. Despite a friendship forming with David Garrick and the promise of a literary career Colman decided that out of respect for Lord Bath he would continue to also practice law.
In 1760, Colman produced his first play, 'Polly Honeycomb'. It was a great success. The following year, 1761, he followed up with 'The Jealous Wife', a comedy partly founded on Henry Fielding's 'Tom Jones'. It made Colman famous.
On 21st October 1762 his son, George Colman the Younger, was born. He too would follow in his fathers' footsteps in education and career.
In 1764 with the death of Lord Bath and a substantial inheritance Colman was now financially secure and could also stop his law career to work solely on literature.
In 1765, his metrical translation of the six plays of Terence was published. The following year, 1766, in partnership with David Garrick, came another success: 'The Clandestine Marriage'. The only blot was when Colman quarreled with Garrick's refusal to take the part of Lord Ogleby.
With the arrival of 1767 Colman decided to expand his interests by acquiring a quarter share in the Covent Garden Theatre. When his play 'The Oxonian in Town' was performed there on 9th November that year a riot ensued, apparently sparked by a claque of card-sharpers.
Colman was elected to the Literary Club, in 1768, then nominally consisting of twelve members. In 1771 Thomas Arne's masque 'The Fairy Prince' premièred at Covent Garden, for which Colman wrote the libretto.
His instincts as a theatrical impresario were sound. As well as part-owner he was also the acting manager of Covent Garden for seven years during which he produced several 'adapted' plays of Shakespeare. He also directed the première of 'She Stoops to Conquer' in 1773.
In 1774 he sold to James Leake his share of Covent Garden, which had involved him in much litigation with his partners, and three years later, in 1777, he purchased the little theatre in the Haymarket from Samuel Foote.
George Colman suffered badly from attacks of paralysis in 1785 and his health became both failing and a burden. By 1789 his brain had become affected, and he died on 14th August 1794. He was buried in Kensington Church.