Charlotte: Being a True Account of an Actress's Flamboyant Adventures in Eighteenth-Century London's Wild and Wicked Theatrical World

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Macmillan, Apr 4, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 433 pages
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The life of actress Charlotte Charke transports us through the splendors and scandals of eighteenth-century London and its wicked theatrical world

Her father, Colley Cibber, was one of the eighteenth century's great actor/playwrights-the toast of the British aristocracy, a favorite of the king. When his high-spirited, often rebellious daughter, Charlotte, revealed a fondness for things theatrical, it was thought that the young actress would follow in his footsteps at the legendary Drury Lane, creating a brilliant career on the London stage. But this was not to be. And it was not that Charlotte lacked talent-she was gifted, particularly at comedy. Troublesome, however, was her habit of dressing in men's clothes-a preference first revealed onstage but adopted elsewhere after her disastrous marriage to an actor, who became the last man she ever loved.

Kathryn Shevelow, an expert on the sophisticated world of eighteenth-century London (the setting for classics such as Tom Jones and Moll Flanders), re-creates Charlotte's downfall from the heights of London's theatrical world to its lascivious lows (the domain of fire-eaters, puppeteers, wastrels, gender-bending cross-dressers, wenches, and scandalous sorts of every variety) and her comeback as the author of one of the first autobiographies ever written by a woman. Beyond the appealingly unorthodox Charlotte, Shevelow masterfully recalls for us a historical era of extraordinary stylishness, artifice, character, interest, and intrigue.
 

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Contents

Prologue
1
Dress Rehearsal
9
Gibbers 16601711
23
The Impertinent Intruder 171113
44
A Passionate Fondness for a Periwig 171710
51
Educating Charlotte 171017
63
Laureate 171030
78
The Provoked Wife 171930
95
Cordelia or The Art of Management 173536
198
On the Edge 1736
215
Bad Acts 1737
232
Punchs Theatre 173738
251
Hard Times 173841
268
Down and Out in London 174144
285
A Mind to Get Money 174246
303
A Little Dirty Kind of War 174653
319

Chambermaids and Pretty Men 173131
113
Show show show show 1731
126
Stormy Weather 173133
140
Mutiny 1733
156
Wearing the Breeches 173334
167
Mad Company 173435
181
The Female Husband 175154
333
The Prodigal Daughter 175556
347
Epilogue
377
Bibliography
407
Index
431
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About the author (2005)

A specialist in eighteenth-century British literature and culture, Kathryn Shevelow has been an award-winning professor at the University of California in San Diego for twenty years and regularly taught classes in Restoration and eighteenth-century drama. She has published widely on eighteenth-century topics and is the author of Woman and Print Culture: The Construction of Femininity in the Early Periodical. She lives in Solana Beach, California.

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