Colley Cibber (1671 – 1757)

From the website of the Twickenham Museum:

“Colley Cibber was born at Southwark, the son of Caius Gabriel Cibber the Danish sculptor, and his second wife Jane Colley, an heiress. The Colleys came from Rutland and Colley was sent to school in Grantham displaying, according to the DNB, “a special sharpness of intellect and aptitude for verse writing which gained him consideration from his masters, and a conceit which rendered him unpopular with his fellows”. His mother was held to enjoy descent from William of Wykeham but his application for entry to Winchester College was unsuccessful. He directed his subsequent attention to the theatre and stage.

Although an enemy of Alexander Pope from 1717 he was later the hero of the New Dunciad published in 1742. He was made Poet Laureate in 1730 in preference to Lewis Theobald, Matthew Concannen and Stephen Duck and Pope wrote to David Mallet saying that he was “sorry, not surprised”.

He was a tenant, around 1715, of the cottage built by Lord Bradford’s coachman, known as Chopp’d Straw Hall, and later converted by Horace Walpole to make Strawberry Hill. This was before Pope came to Twickenham.

In 1756 his son Theophilus (1703-1758) by his first marriage re-opened the theatre on Hill Rise, Richmond (see image) as a warehouse for cephalic snuff, in which the public were allowed in, free of charge to witness theatrical rehearsals. This was a device for circumventing the licensing laws.

Theophilus married Susannah, one of Handel’s favourite singers and sister of Thomas Arne (1710-1786).”

From Wikipedia:

“…(Cibber) rose to ignominious fame when he became the chief target, the head Dunce, of Alexander Pope’s satirical poem The Dunciad.

Cibber’s poetical work was derided in his time, and has been remembered only for being poor. His importance in British theatre history rests on his being one of the first in a long line of actor-managers, on the interest of two of his comedies as documents of evolving early 18th-century taste and ideology, and on the value of his autobiography as a historical source…”

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