The Well-Known Troublemaker

The Well-Known Troublemaker book jacket
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Faber & Faber

Biography of the eccentric and wilful 18th century actress-manager-writer, Charlotte Charke.

Charke was the youngest (and unwanted) daughter of the celebrated actor, playwright and Poet Laureate, Colley Cibber. Rebelling against her father’s outmoded theatrical style, Charke sided with the playwright Henry Fielding, who scorned her father and all that he stood for.

Their controversial work triggered the government to bring in the Stage Licensing Act of 1737. Whereas Fielding abandonned the stage for the novel, Charlotte spent the rest of her life struggling to make a living as an actor, and inventing ever more ingenious ways of breaking the devastating grip of the licensing act upon the English theatre.

Charke’s complete autobiography is printed within the book, and interspersed with Fidelis’s original research, which unearthed several new pieces of information on Charlotte Charke’s extraordinary life and career.

Nobody ever asks us to produce a list of Christmas-book ideas, but if they did The Well Known Troublemaker would be at the very top of it…[it] reads like a cross between Moll Flanders and Twelfth Night. The New Yorker

Fidelis Morgan has had the ingenious idea of interweaving Charlotte’s own narrative with the known facts of her subject’s life, and in the contradiction lies much fascination…The life must have been an enormous pleasure to write – it certainly is to read. Fay Weldon, Mail on Sunday

This is a fascinating book, and Morgan’s biographical surmises and final commentary combine scholarliness (she has unearthed several new facts) with common sense. Sunday Times

A book crammed with bright ideas; a serious and fascinating biography, too, of a woman who played life for all she was worth. Lorna Sage, The Observer

Charlotte Charke emerges as an eccentric and a clown whose rightful place was on the stage; not perhaps overly talented, but a real trouper, who at long last has found in Fidelis Morgan a spirited defender. The Times

Fidelis Morgan does two things well in this fascinating book. An actress and playwright herself, she portrays Charke’s extraordinary life with sympathy and thoroughness. She also convincingly frees her subject from the crude stereotypes which later theatrical historians have used to deal with her startling unconventionality. Sean French, New Statesman and Society