By Charlotte Clarke, 1755
Charlotte Charke, the estranged daughter of British poet laureate Colley Cibber, was an 18th century actress, playwright, novelist and noted transvestite. In this scandalous memoir, Charke recounts her extraordinary double life as “Charles Brown,” her career on stage in “breeches roles,” and her misadventures as a doctor, shopkeeper, sausage merchant, valet, groom, puppeteer, pastry cook, and tavern owner. She describes her painful separation from her father and her struggle with poverty in the era of debtors’ prison. Dedicated to herself, A Narrative of the Life of Mrs. Charlotte Charke is at once witty and eccentric, colorful and enigmatic, and establishes its author as one of the great transgressive figures of her time.