Cibber, Colley

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cibber, Colley

Colley Cibber (sĬb´ər), 1671–1757, English dramatist and actor-manager. Joining the company at the Theatre Royal in 1690, Cibber became successful as a comedian, playing the fops of Restoration comedy. His first play, Love's Last Shift (1696), is a landmark in the history of the theater and is regarded as the first sentimental comedy. Of his 30 dramas, She Wou'd and She Wou'd Not (1702), The Careless Husband (1704), and The Nonjuror (1717) are the most notable. From 1710 to 1740 he was the manager of Drury Lane. He was appointed poet laureate in 1730. An extremely unpopular, social-climbing, and insolent man, he was ridiculed by the critics and bitterly attacked by Pope, who made him the hero of the final version of The Dunciad. Cibber's Apology (1740) is a mine of information about the theater of this period.

See R. H. Barker, Mr. Cibber of Drury Lane (1939); L. Ashley, Colley Cibber (1965).



Both his son, Theophilus Cibber, 1703–58, and his daughter, Charlotte (Cibber) Clarke, d. 1760?, went on the stage with some success, earning wild and eccentric reputations in the tradition of the family. The wife of Theophilus, Susannah Maria (Arne) Cibber, 1714–66, sister of the composer Thomas Augustine Arne, sang in opera and appeared with great success in tragic roles.

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