Partial Histories: A Reappraisal of Colley Cibber

Elaine McGirr

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Colley Cibber was the most prolific and most performed playwright of the eighteenth century, one of the century’s most notable actors, a successful actor-manager, and the progenitor of a theatrical dynasty of both biological and ‘adopted’ children including his son Theophilus, his daughter Charlotte, granddaughter Jenny, daughter-in-law Susannah and his protégées including Anne Oldfield and Laetitia Pilkington. Despite this, he is largely neglected in scholarly research and his plays remain largely unread and unperformed. This project seeks to return Cibber to the centre of eighteenth-century studies and to unpack some of the reasons for his marginalisation. It aims to revive interest in his plays and spark debate about the ways in which we tell narrative history and construct biography. The book deconstructs myths about Cibber – that he was a hack, a clown and a bad father – from different perspectives (theatre history; literary history; gender studies; celebrity studies) and seeks to explain why his legacy has been so disfigured.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages210
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-137-02719-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-137-02718-4, 978-1-349-66904-2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2016


  • Cibber
  • Theatre History
  • biography

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