Colley Cibber was an English actor-manager, playwright and Poet Laureate. He rose to ignominious fame when he became the chief target, the head Dunce, of Alexander Pope’s satirical poem The Dunciad. He wrote 25 plays for his own company at Drury Lane, half of which were adapted from various sources. He made his last appearance on the stage in 1745, at the age of 73, in his memoir Apology for the Life of Colley Ciberber.
About Colley Cibber in brief
Colley Cibber was an English actor-manager, playwright and Poet Laureate. He rose to ignominious fame when he became the chief target, the head Dunce, of Alexander Pope’s satirical poem The Dunciad. He wrote 25 plays for his own company at Drury Lane, half of which were adapted from various sources. His brash, extroverted personality did not sit well with his contemporaries, and he was frequently accused of tasteless theatrical productions, shady business methods, and a social and political opportunism that was thought to have gained him the laureateship over far better poets. He was friendly with the writer Samuel Richardson, the actress Margaret Woffington, and the poet Laetitia Pilkington. He made his last appearance on the stage in 1745, at the age of 73, in his own memoir Apology for the Life of Colley Ciberber. He died in London in 1760, and was buried in St Paul’s Cathedral, London, with his wife, Katherine Shore, and their 12 children. Most of the surviving children received short shrift in his will, and most of his estate was given to his eldest daughter Catherine, who looked after him in old age after his wife’s death in 1734. His youngest daughter Charlotte followed in her father’s theatrical footsteps, but she fell out with him and her sister Catherine, and she was cut off by the family. His eldest son Theophilus was an embarrassment to his father because of his scandalous private life.
His other son to survive infancy, James, died in or after 1717, before reaching adulthood. His middle daughters, Anne and Elizabeth, went into business. Anne had a shop that sold fine wares and foods, and married John Boultby. Elizabeth had a restaurant near Gray’s Inn, and marriage firstly Dawson Brett, and secondly Joseph Marples. He had 12 children between 1694 and 1713, but six died in infancy, and his only son to reach adulthood, Theophius, became an actor atDrury Lane. He eventually became a popular comedian, wrote and adapted many plays, and rose to become one of the newly empowered businessmen-managers. In 1730 he was made Poet laureate, an appointment which attracted widespread scorn from Alexander Pope and other Toryists, particularly from the Offending Offending Party. His last appearance as a stage actor was in his memoir Aged 73, when he made his own last appearance in Pandulphly, his own own stage play. He is remembered only for being poor. His importance in British theatre history rests on the interest of two of his comedies as documents of evolving early 18th-century taste and ideology, and on the value of his autobiography as a historical source. He entered the theatrical world at a time when players were losing their power to businessmen-menagers. He became a highly commercial, if not artistically successful, successful, in line, in the line of the South Sea Company.