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Reade, Charles

Charles Reade, 1814–84, English novelist and dramatist. He is noted for his historical romance The Cloister and the Hearth. After being elected a fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, he was called to the bar. His interests, however, soon turned to the theater. He achieved his first success with Masks and Faces (1852), written in collaboration with Tom Taylor. The play, concerned with life in the theater, was used as the basis for his first novel, Peg Woffington (1853). An ardent reformer, he began a long series of propagandist novels with It's Never Too Late to Mend (1856), describing the cruelties of prison discipline. Others in the series included Hard Cash (1863), and Put Yourself in His Place (1870). He also wrote the novels Griffith Grant (1866), Foul Play (1869), and A Terrible Temptation (1871). His masterpiece, The Cloister and the Hearth (1861), is a picaresque novel concerning the adventures of Gerard, the father of Erasmus. In 1879 Reade collaborated with Charles Warner in writing Drink, a dramatization of Zola's L'Assommoir.

See biography by M. Elwin (1931); study by W. Burns (1961).

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