From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Colley Cibber (11 June 1671 – 12 November 1757) was a British actor-manager, playwright, and Poet Laureate. His colourful memoir Apology for the Life of Colley Cibber (1740) started a British tradition of personal, anecdotal, and even rambling autobiography. He wrote some plays for performance by his own company at Drury Lane, and adapted many more from various sources, receiving frequent criticism for his "miserable mutilation" (Robert Lowe) of "hapless Shakespeare, and crucify'd Molière" (Alexander Pope). He regarded himself as first and foremost an actor and had great popular success in comical fop parts, while as a tragic actor he was persistent but much ridiculed. Cibber's brash, extroverted personality did not sit well with his contemporaries, and he was frequently accused of tasteless theatrical productions, social and political opportunism (which was thought to have gained him the laureateship over far better poets), and shady business methods. He rose to herostratic fame when he became the chief target, the head Dunce, of Alexander Pope's satirical poem The Dunciad.
Cibber's poetical work was ridiculed in his time, and has been remembered only for being bad. His importance in British theatre history rests on his being the first in a long line of actor-managers, on the interest of two of his comedies as documents of mutating early 18th-century taste and ideology, and on the value of his autobiography as a source for our knowledge of the 18th-century London stage.