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Peg Woffington   By: (1814-1884)

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Peg Woffington by Charles Reade is a captivating tale that delves into the world of theater and the complex lives of its performers. Set in 18th century London, the story follows the rise of the eponymous character – a talented and spirited actress who captivates audiences both on and off the stage.

Reade expertly weaves together a compelling narrative that explores the joys and struggles of the theater world, as well as the personal sacrifices required by those who dare to pursue their dreams. The author's extensive knowledge of the period is evident in the rich historical backdrop against which the story unfolds, immersing readers in the vibrant streets of London and the opulent theater scene.

Peg Woffington herself is a brilliantly developed character, exuding charisma and vulnerability in equal measure. As readers follow her journey, they become emotionally invested in her triumphs and trials, rooting for her every step of the way. Reade masterfully portrays the complexities of Peg's relationships, particularly her on-again, off-again romance with the dashing Colonel Charles Mordaunt. The chemistry between the characters is palpable, adding an extra layer of depth to the story.

One of the book's greatest strengths lies in its exploration of gender roles in the 18th century. Reade skillfully captures the challenges faced by female actors like Peg Woffington during a time when women were often relegated to the sidelines of society. The author raises important questions about identity, discrimination, and the price of fame, prompting readers to reflect on similar issues that persist today.

In terms of writing style, Reade's prose is eloquent and evocative, painting vivid pictures of the vibrant theater world and the colorful characters that inhabit it. His dialogue is especially noteworthy, effortlessly capturing the wit and banter that typified the era. The pacing of the story keeps readers engaged, moving seamlessly between moments of high drama and quiet introspection.

While Peg Woffington is a thoroughly enjoyable read, it does have its flaws. At times, the plot can become slightly predictable, with certain twists and turns feeling somewhat formulaic. Additionally, some readers might find that the sheer number of characters introduced throughout the story can be overwhelming, making it challenging to fully connect with each one.

Despite these minor shortcomings, Peg Woffington remains a captivating and thought-provoking novel that immerses readers in the dazzling world of the theater. Reade's meticulous attention to detail and his nuanced portrayal of complex characters make this a truly memorable read. Whether you have an interest in the theater, historical fiction, or simply enjoy a well-crafted story, Peg Woffington is well worth your time.

First Page:


By Charles Reade

To T. Taylor, Esq., my friend, and coadjutor in the comedy of "Masks and Faces," to whom the reader owes much of the best matter in this tale: and to the memory of Margaret Woffington, falsely summed up until to day, this "Dramatic Story" is inscribed by CHARLES READE.

LONDON. Dec. 15, 1852.


ABOUT the middle of the last century, at eight o'clock in the evening, in a large but poor apartment, a man was slumbering on a rough couch. His rusty and worn suit of black was of a piece with his uncarpeted room, the deal table of home manufacture, and its slim unsnuffed candle.

The man was Triplet, scene painter, actor and writer of sanguinary plays, in which what ought to be, viz., truth, plot, situation and dialogue, were not; and what ought not to be, were scilicet, small talk, big talk, fops, ruffians, and ghosts.

His three mediocrities fell so short of one talent that he was sometimes impransus.

He slumbered, but uneasily; the dramatic author was uppermost, and his "Demon of the Hayloft" hung upon the thread of popular favor.

On his uneasy slumber entered from the theater Mrs. Triplet.

She was a lady who in one respect fell behind her husband; she lacked his variety in ill doing, but she recovered herself by doing her one thing a shade worse than he did any of his three... Continue reading book >>

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