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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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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3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  26 ratings  ·  8 reviews
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 fondnes...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 4th 2005 by Henry Holt and Co. (first published 2005)
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Nigel Holloway
I owe a great debt of gratitude to Kathryn Shevelow. Let me explain...

I was researching the state of the London theatre in the early eighteenth century, when I came across the unique figure of Colley Cibber. He was one of a partnership of three men who held the patent to run the Drury Lane Theatre. This is probably not the place to describe his career, but suffice to say that as one of those in charge of that theatre, he made the biggest theatrical mistake in the history of the theatre that far:...more
Richard
I've had this book on my shelf for a few years now. I'm not sure what prompted me to buy it; the weird creepy cover is far from compelling. It's a biography of Charlotte Charke, an actress who had brief success on the London stage in the 18th Century and also experience notoriety for her preference to dress in mens' clothing.

There are many gaps in surviving accounts of Charlotte's life; a reader can sometimes sense the author's frustration in not being able to know more about her subject. Since...more
Emma  Kaufmann
A woman of rare talents and high spirits, Charlotte Charke (1713-1760) was an actress who delighted in scandalizing proper society — whenever she could. Her London was a stage writ large where bejeweled ladies rode in carriages past prostitutes and pickpockets, crowds munched on ginger-bread while watching hangings, and Mrs. Mapp the bonesetter realigned kneecaps for fascinated crowds. On street corners, fire-eaters, contortionists, tumblers, and dancing dogs competed for attention. Yet even amo...more
Manda
Before picking up this book, I knew nothing about Charlotte Charke, but I'm really glad I read this because now she ranks right up with Aphra Behn as one of my favourite ladies involved in the theatre. Born into a prominent theatrical family, the Cibbers (her father was the famous comedic actor, playwright and poet laureate Colley Cibber), Charlotte debuted onstage at Drury Lane at the age of 17, making her mark playing snarky ladies' maids in comedies. She was poised to become one of the leadin...more
Mary Ellen
Good historians are often dismal writers, but Shevelow's narrative is engaging without veering off into conjecture or baseless fluff. The story of the actress Charlotte is an interesting skeleton which the author uses to support more general historical detail about the period. This context adds greatly to the story. Another strength is that Shevelow never falls prey to the twin failings of biographers - slavering adoration or spiteful condemnation. She also doesn't accept uncritically the image...more
Megan Reichelt
I finished my first biography!!

Her story is amazing. She was born to the stage, and struggled all her life to keep it that way, but along the way she was a doctor, a groom, a valet, a shop owner, a waiter, restaurant owner, a puppeteer and puppet theater manager, a sausage seller, a writer and of course an actress, prompt book keeper, and theatrical manager.

And a lot of the times she did it while wearing breaches. She was disowned by her family because she wanted to wear men's clothing and play...more
Vivisection
Kathryn Shevelow was my favorite professors at UCSD. She sparked my love of all things 18th century. While I found the narrative difficult to follow at times, I loved the fact that my favorite professor is still bringing that time period to life.
Laura
I wasn't able to get far. It sounded like something I would love, but I hated that it wasn't written from the main character's point of view. It didn't feel like the reader would ever get a chance to know Charlotte.
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