How did “stealing thunder” originate?

John Dennis (1657-1734), an English dramatist and critic, was responsible for the expression to steal one’s thunder. In 1709 his play Appius and Virginia was produced at Drury Lane in London, and for its production the playwright introduced a new method of simulating thunder on the stage. Previously stage thunder “was produced by large bowls. Dennis produced it “by troughs of wood with stops in them.” Appius and Virgiaius was a financial failure and was soon withdrawn by the manager, much to the disappointment and disgust of the author, who had a high opinion of his work. Soon afterwards he went to Drury Lane to witness a performance of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, in which the improved method of producing thunder was employed. Dennis was , furious when he heard it. He exclaimed: “That’s my thunder, by God! the villains will not play my play but they rattle my thunder.”