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SUSANNA CENTLIVRE

The following biography is reprinted from A Dictionary of the Drama. W. Davenport Adams. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1904.

Playwright and actress Susanna Centlivre was born in 1667 and died in 1723. She married, en secondes noces, an officer named Caroll, and it was under that name (after his death) that she published her earlier dramatic efforts. "Such an attachment she seems to have had to the theatre, that," says the Biographia Dramatica, "she even became herself a performer, though it is probable of no great merit, as she never rose above the station of a country actress." It was in 1706, while playing at Windsor, that she met Joseph Centlivre, principal cook to the Queen, whom she married shortly after.

The following is a list of her plays:-- The Perjured Husband (1700), The Beau's Duel (1702), The Stolen Heiress (1703), Love's Contrivance (1703), The Gamester (1705), The Basset-Table (1706), Love at a Venture (1706), The Platonic Lady (1707), The Busybody (1709), The Man's Bewitched (1710), A Bickerstaff's Burying (1710), Marplot in Lisbon (1711), The Perplexed Lovers (1712), The Wonder (1714), The Gotham Election (1715), The Wife Well Managed (1715), The Cruel Gift (1717), A Bold Stroke for a Wife (1718), The Artifice (1722).

Her dramatic pieces were collected and published in 1761. "Their authoress," writes A.W. Ward, "needed no indulgence as a playwright on the score of her sex, for not one among the dramatists contemporary with her better understood the construction of light comic actions, or the use of those conventional figures of comedy which irresistibly appeal to the mirthful instincts of a popular audience.... She never flattered herself, as she confesses, 'that anything she was capable of doing could support the stage.' In one instance, however [Marplot in The Busybody], she virtually invented a personage of really novel humour; and in another [Don Felix in The Wonder] she devised a character to which the genius of a great actor ensured a long enduring life on the boards" (English Dramatic Literature, 1899).

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