Colley Cibber was the son of Jane Colley and Caius Gabriel Cibber, a master sculptor from Flensburg, Schleswig. Cibber’s father had intended his son for the Church, but Cibber became stagestruck at an early age and in 1689 joined the Theatre Royal as an unsalaried apprentice. Even though his early years were not marked by financial success, in 1693, Cibber married Katherine Shore, the daughter of Matthias Shore, who held the post of Sergeant Trumpet at court.
Discouraged by the poor roles he was assigned, Cibber wrote a play (Love’s Last Shift) with a role for himself. Sir Novelty Fashion was not the main character in the play, but the part gave Cibber a chance to demonstrate his comic abilities. Shortly after the play’s premiere in 1696, Sir John Vanbrugh wrote The Relapse: Or, Virtue in Danger as a sequel to Love’s Last Shift. Cibber’s performance as Lord Foppington (the new title for Sir Novelty) in Vanbrugh’s play confirmed his success in Love’s Last Shift and established him as one of the leading comedians of his day. As a playwright and an actor, Cibber did not limit himself to comedy, but it was in this genre that he enjoyed his greatest successes. In addition to writing and acting, Cibber became increasingly involved in the administration of Drury Lane, eventually becoming one of the triumvirate of actor-managers who ran the company.
The 1720’s were marked for Colley Cibber by...
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