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Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?1214721">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Mrs. Clive (1711–1785)

Author of The case of Mrs. Clive

Includes the names: Catherine Clive

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Catherine "Kitty" Clive, née Raftor, was probably born in London. Her father was an Irish-born former officer in the army of King Louis XIV of France. She is said to have worked as a domestic servant for wealthy families while young and to have been "discovered" at age 17 singing while she cleaned the front steps of a home near a tavern patronized by actors and playwrights. Colley Cibber, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, hired her and she made her stage debut as a pageboy in Nathaniel Lee's tragedy Mithridates, King of Pontus. In the 1730s, she became Drury Lane's leading comedic actress and eventually the highest paid actress of her day. She also sang in some of the oratorios of George Friedrich Handel, a friend. Around 1732, she married George Clive, a lawyer, but the union was not a success and the two separated, though never officially divorced. In 1744, she published a pamphlet, The Case of Mrs. Clive, in which she publicly shamed theatre managers Christopher Rich and Charles Fleetwood for conspiring to cheat actors of their proper pay, and challenged the public's perception of actors as beggars and prostitutes. In 1747, she became one of the founding members of David Garrick's acting company. Kitty
Clive also wrote several satirical short plays with feminist undertones including The Rehearsal, or Boys in Petticoats (1750); Every Woman in her Humour (1760); and Sketches of a Fine Lady’s Return from a Rout (1763). After a 40-year career, she retired to a villa in Twickenham that had been a gift from her friend Horace Walpole.
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