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He had always liked a good mess—God knows he had sure made a few. In typical form, he sq...- Sheryl Sandberg
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|Birth:||8th June, 1814|
|Death:||11th April, 1884|
Charles Reade was born at Ipsden, Oxfordshire to John Reade and Anne Marie Scott-Waring; William Winwood Reade the influential historian, was his nephew. He studied at Magdalen College, Oxford, taking his B.A. in 1835, and became a fellow of his college. He was subsequently dean of arts and vice-president, taking his degree of D.C.L. in 1847. His name was entered at Lincoln's Inn in 1836; he was elected Vinerian Fellow in 1842, and was called to the bar in 1843. He kept his fellowship at Magdalen all his life, but after taking his degree he spent most of his time in London.
Reade began his literary career as a dramatist, and it was his own wish that the word "dramatist" should stand first in the description of his occupations on his tombstone. As an author, he always had an eye to stage effect in scene and situation as well as in dialogue. His first comedy, The Ladies' Battle, appeared at the Olympic Theatre in May 1851. It was followed by Angela (1851), A Village Tale (1852), The Lost Husband (1852), and Gold (1853). But Reade's reputation was made by the two-act comedy, Masks and Faces, in which he collaborated with Tom Taylor. It was produced in November 1852, and later was expanded into three acts. By the advice of the actress, Laura Seymour, he turned the play into a prose story which appeared in 1853 as Peg Woffington. He followed this up in the same year with Christie Johnstone, a close study of Scottish fisher folk. In 1854 he produced, in conjunction with Tom Taylor, Two Loves and a Life, and The King's Rival, and, unaided, The Courier of Lyons and his adaptation of Tobias Smollett's Peregrine Pickle. In the next year appeared Art, afterwards known as Nance Oldfield.
In 1861 Reade produced what would become his most famous work, The Cloister and the Hearth. The story relates the adventures of the father of Erasmus, a subject he had dealt with two years before in a short story in Once a Week. It became recognised as one of the most successful historical novels. Returning from the 15th century to modern English life, he next produced Hard Cash(1863), in which he drew attention to the abuses of private lunatic asylums.
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