Colley Cibber Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

ph_0111207684-Cibber.jpg Colley Cibber Published by Salem Press, Inc.

Colley Cibber wrote a number of nonfiction works in his later years: An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber (1740), A Letter from Mr. Cibber to Mr. Pope (1742), The Egoist: Or, Colley upon Cibber (1743), A Second Letter from Mr. Cibber to Mr. Pope (1743), Another Occasional Letter from Mr. Cibber to Mr. Pope (1744), The Character and Conduct of Cicero (1747), and A Rhapsody upon the Marvellous (1751). In addition, having been made poet laureate in 1730, he wrote a series of annual New Year’s and birthday odes celebrating the virtues of George II.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Colley Cibber’s reputation rests on his career as an actor, manager, and playwright. As an actor, he was one of the principal comedians of his time, winning fame for his portrayals of a particular character type, the foppish fool. As one of several actor-managers, he was the reader for Drury Lane and determined which new plays were performed and which were rejected. As a playwright, he wrote a series of successful dramas, including the first sentimental comedy, Love’s Last Shift. Today, his plays have chiefly historical interest, but a good half dozen became staples of the theatrical repertory during the eighteenth century. In his autobiography, An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber, Cibber likened his plays to his children: “I think we had about a dozen of each sort [that is, children and plays] between us; of both which Kinds, some dy’d in their Infancy, and near an equal number of each were alive, when I quitted the Theatre.” Cibber’s autobiography provides not only a record of his life but also a theatrical history of London during the Restoration and early eighteenth century. Today, it is Cibber’s most widely read work.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Ashley, Leonard R. N. Colley Cibber. Rev. ed. Boston: Twayne, 1989. Ashley devotes one chapter to Cibber’s youth and then gives an account of him as an actor, listing the various roles he played. One chapter judges Cibber’s work as a dramatist, and three chapters deal with his life in the theater. His quarrel with Alexander Pope is also summarized. A good bibliography completes this study.

Barker, Richard Hindry. Mr. Cibber of Drury Lane. 1939. Reprint. New York: AMS Press, 1966. A well-written and comprehensive biography, especially good for the discussions of the rise of the actors-managers and their last years.

Cibber, Colley. An Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber, with an Historical View of the Stage During His Own Time. Edited by B. R. S. Fone. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1968. First published in 1740, Cibber’s autobiography, though usually faulted for being poorly written, is valuable for its intimate view of stage life during Cibber’s time.

Cibber, Colley. Colley Cibber: Three Sentimental Comedies. Edited by Maureen Sullivan. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1973. Sullivan has edited Love’s Last Shift, The Careless Husband, and The Lady’s Last Stake. She provides a forty-page introduction, an appendix with the first scene of...

(The entire section is 441 words.)