Kathryn Shevelow is an award-winning professor at the University of California in San Diego, teaching regular classes in Restoration and eighteenth-century drama. She has published widely on eighteenth-century topics and lives in Solana Beach, California.
Shevelow entertainingly raises the curtain on author-actress Charlotte Cibber Charke (1713-1760), a cross-dresser famed for her portrayal of male characters. The author, a specialist in 18th-century British literature and culture, offers a full-scale biography of this enigmatic eccentric, who also wrote plays and novels (including Henry Dumont). She was the youngest daughter of England's poet laureate, the actor-playwright Colley Cibber. Estranged from him and abandoned by her philandering husband, Charke supported herself and her daughter by acting, often in male roles, and then began wearing male clothing offstage. After a 1737 cutback in productions, she worked traditionally male jobs (grocer, innkeeper, pastry cook, proofreader, puppeteer, sausage seller, valet), assuming a male identity for years under the name Charles Brown. Contrasting Charke's early theatrical triumphs with her later misfortunes, poverty and despair, Shevelow quotes extensively from Charke's autobiography, A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke (1755), and ends with 30 pages of notes and a bibliography. With more than a few speculative passages, this splendiferous recreation of the past is rich in period detail, and theater buffs will applaud. Illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Amy Rennert at the Rennert Agency. (Apr. 4) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
"Refreshingly frank." --The New York Times Book Review"Shevelow engagingly details Charlotte's adventures." --The New Yorker"This splendiferous recreation of the past is rich in period detail, and theater buffs will applaud." --Publishers Weekly"Shevelow's detailed, touching portrait revealed Charlotte to me as a rebel sister." --The Advocate