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Charlotte Charke (1713–1760)

Author of A narrative of the life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke

Includes the names: Charlotte Cibber Charke

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Short biography
Charlotte Cibber was born into a noted theater family. Her father was the playwright and poet laureate Colley Cibber. She was educated in the liberal arts and learned Latin, Italian, and geography. As a child, she lived with her mother in the country, but then returned to London at about age 16. She hung about the Drury Lane Theatre, where her father was manager. In 1730, she married Richard Charke, an actor and musician, but he mistreated her and they separated. Charlotte Charke was left to support herself and her daughter Catherine (called Kitty). She made her stage debut in the same year and became especially successful in breeches roles. After her father sold the theater, Charlotte Charke was thrown out of work and wrote her first play, The Art of Management, published in 1735. She appeared in public as a man, and referred to herself as Mr. Brown. To make a living, she worked at various jobs including puppeteer, theater manager, tavern keeper, sausage seller, even valet to a nobleman. From 1752 to 1753, she wrote for the Bristol Weekly Intelligencer, and in 1754 she worked as a prompter in Bath. At the end of that year, she moved back to London to try her hand again as a writer. She wrote her first novel, The History of Mr. Henry Dumont and Miss Charlotte Evelyn (1755) and A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke, issued in instalments, which was one of the first autobiographies published by a woman. She tried to reconcile with her estranged father, but to no avail. Her daughter Kitty moved to the USA with her husband in 1758. The following year, Charlotte Charke attempted a return to the stage, but fell ill and died in poverty.
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