1679 – 1748
Who was Charles Johnson?
Charles Johnson was an English playwright, tavern keeper, and enemy of Alexander Pope's. He was a dedicated Whig who allied himself with the Duke of Marlborough, Colley Cibber, and those who rose in opposition to Queen Anne's Tory ministry of 1710 – 1714.
Johnson claimed to be trained in the law, but there is no evidence of his membership in any of the inns of court. At the same time, it is possible that he was a lawyer, as his first two published works, in 1704 and 1705 had him living in Gray's Inn, and he married a Mary Bradbury in Gray's Inn chapel in 1709, the year of his first play, Love and Liberty.
Some time around 1710, he became friends with the actor-manager of Drury Lane Theatre, Robert Wilks, and Wilks ensured that Johnson's plays received consideration. In 1711, The Wife's Relief, or, The Husband's Cure was a great success. The play starred Colley Cibber, Robert Wilks, Thomas Doggett, and Anne Oldfield. He received £300 for the play, and it remained in print for two decades. In 1712, The Successful Pyrate was acted, and John Dennis complained to the Charles Killigrew, master of revels that the play glamorized the pirate Henry Every. Nevertheless, the play's controversy helped its attendance, and it was a theatrical success.
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