Cibber, Colley

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Cibber, Colley (1671-1757). English Playwright.

Although Colley Cibber was perhaps the most influential theatrical personality of his day, as well as Poet Laureate from 1730 until his death in 1757, he is best remembered today as the butt of attacks by political and literary rivals, such as Pope, Alexander, who made Cibber the hero of the final version of the mock epic, The Dunciad.

The son of a sculptor, Cibber was educated at the Grantham School and became an actor in 1690. He produced his first play, Love’s Last Shift, in 1696 and wrote many other comedies, including The Careless Husband in 1705. Along with Steele, Richard, he was a leading advocate of “humane” or “sentimental” comedy. He became the leading member of the “Triumvirate” that governed London’s chief theater, the Theatre Royale at Drury Lane, until 1733. In 1740 he produced an autobiography, Apology for the Life of Mr. Colley Cibber, Comedian, a lively, if self-serving and sometimes catty, depiction of life in the early eighteenth-century London theater.

Further reading:

Helene Koon, Colley Cibber: A Biography, 1985.

Treadwell Ruml

California State University

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