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Susanna Centlivre was a contemporary of the Female Wits and in style she is more closely related to them than to the female dramatists of the eighteenth century. She must have known Pix, Manley and Wiseman personally, since she contributed to collections they edited, or in turn received verses for her own publications. But she started to write later than most of the wits and continued after they had all long ceased. She has been the most successful English female dramatist ever, though her crowning success only came posthumously. She was one of the most frequently performed contemporaneous dramatists in the eighteenth century, and her comedies were favourite vehicles for the most celebrated actors, remaining in the repertoire for two centuries. Little, however, is known for certain about her personal life. She is said to have come from Puritan stock, and there are stories that after her parents’ death she joined a troupe of strolling players, spent some months at Oxford in male disguise with a lover, married an actor, then an army officer and finally a cook in the royal household. She supported the House of Hannover at a time when the succession was not at all clear and remained a fervent Whig all her life, which earned her the enmity of Tories like Pope, who savaged her in The Dunciad and in A Further Account of the most Deplorable Condition of Mr. Edmund Curll, Bookseller.
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