|Born||5 November 1711|
|Died||6 December 1785 (aged 74)|
|Occupation||Actor, singer, playwright|
Catherine Clive (née Raftor; 5 November 1711 – 6 December 1785) was a well-known English actress and occasional singer on London stages. She created the role of Dalila in Handel's 1743 oratorio Samson. She also did some writing. A definitive biography of Clive has been written by Berta Joncus.
Kitty Raftor was probably born in London, but her father, William Raftor, was an Irishman and a former officer in the French army under Louis XIV. Her biographers say she worked as a girl as a servant in the homes of wealthy London families. At the age of 17, she was discovered by the theatre community when overheard singing as she cleaned the front steps of a house near a tavern that actors and playwrights patronized. She was referred to Colley Cibber, manager of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, who hired her.
Her first role at Drury Lane was as the page boy Immenea in Nathaniel Lee's tragedy Mithridates, King of Pontus. Throughout the 1730s she played further roles with success, becoming Drury Lane's leading comedy actress. In 1747 she became a founding member of David Garrick's acting company. A soprano, she would occasionally sing on stage, notably when portraying Emma and Venus in the world première of Thomas Arne's masque Alfred in 1740. She also created the role of Dalila in Handel's 1743 oratorio Samson.
Around 1732, Kitty Raftor married George Clive, a barrister brother of Baron Clive. The marriage was not a success and they separated, although they never divorced. Kitty Clive remained economically independent. Because she never openly took lovers, Clive could keep her marriage vows and preserve her public reputation. Her good standing with the public helped to strengthen the reputation of actresses in general, who were often looked down on as morally lax.
On 15 April 1740 Clive appeared as Mrs Riot, the Fine Lady in David Garrick's first successful play, Lethe; or Aesop in the Shades. Her part at Drury Lane was recorded in a painting and a memorial porcelain figure. She chose this satirical role for her benefit.
Clive rose to become one of the best paid actresses of her time, perhaps more than many male performers, who were traditionally paid more their female counterparts. Her career on stage spanned over forty years. According to K. A. Crouch, "[h]er pay places her among the very best actresses of her generation."  Kitty Clive became a household name along with other theatre names of the time such as Lavinia Fenton and Susannah Cibber. She brought her earning power and fame to play as an open supporter of actors' rights, notably in a 1744 pamphlet, The Case of Mrs. Clive, where she publicly shamed the managers Christopher Rich and Charles Fleetwood for conspiring to pay actors less than their due. She also railed against the public's habit of associating actors with beggars and prostitutes.
Clive tried her hand at writing farces with some success. Her several satirical sketches with feminist undertones included The Rehearsal, or Boys in Petticoats (1750); Every Woman in her Humour (1760); and Sketches of a Fine Lady’s Return from a Rout (1763). In these she used humour to criticize the challenges that female performers and playwrights faced.
In 1761 Kitty Clive lived in Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. She retired in 1769 to a villa in Twickenham, which had been a gift from her friend Horace Walpole. She died there in 1785 and was buried at St Mary's, Twickenham, where there is a memorial to her in the north-east corner of the church, inscribed with a poem that praises her generosity.
A pair of Bow figures of Clive and Henry Woodward as "the Fine Lady" and "the Fine Gentleman" in David Garrick's mythological burlesque Lethe, 1750–1752, may be "the earliest full-length portrait figures in English porcelain".
- Rosella in The Village Opera by Charles Johnson (1729)
- Phillida in Love in a Riddle by Colley Cibber (1729)
- Kitty in The Humours of Oxford by James Miller (1730)
- Dulceda in Bayes's Opera by Gabriel Odingsells (1730)
- Nell in The Devil to Pay by Charles Coffey (1731)
- Chlose in The Lottery by Henry Fielding (1732)
- Mercury in Timon in Love by John Kelly 1733)
- Maria in The Man of Taste by James Miller (1735)
- Liberia in The Universal Passion by James Miller (1737)
- Violetta in Art and Nature by James Miller (1738)
- Miss Kitty in The Coffee House by James Miller (1738)
- Rosamond in Rosamond] by Thomas Arne (1740)
- Kitty in High Life Below Stairs by James Townley (1759)
- Muslin in The Way to Keep Him by Arthur Murphy (1760)
- Lady Beverly in The School for Lovers by William Whitehead (1762)
- Sift in The Widowed Wife by William Kenrick (1767)
- Mrs Winifred in The School for Rakes by Elizabeth Griffith (1769)
References and sources
- Berta Joncus, Kitty Clive, or the Fair Songster (Boydell Press, 2019).
- Melville, pp. 54–56.
- Joncus, "Catherine Clive," Mary Hays, Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries (1803). Chawton House Library Series: Women’s Memoirs, ed. Gina Luria Walker, Memoirs of Women Writers Part II (Pickering & Chatto: London, 2013), vol. 7, pp. 401–404, notes p. 473.
- Caldwell, Popular Plays by Women in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century (Peterborough, Canada: Broadview Press, 2011), p. 28 ff.
- Fiona Ritchie, Women and Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014), p. 43 ff.
- "CollectionsOnline | G0121". garrick.ssl.co.uk. Retrieved 10 July 2018.
- Felicity Nussbaum, Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theater (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), p. 51.
- K. A. Crouch, "Clive , Catherine (1711–1785)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2006.
- Felicity Nussbaum, Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theater (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010), pp. 163 ff.
- Lynn F. Pearson, Discovering Famous Graves (2008, ISBN 0747806195), p. 82.
- J. V. G. Mallet: Rococo: Art and Design in Hogarth's England (London: Victorian and Albert Museum) 1984 (exhibition catalogue) O14, p. 248.
- "Kitty Clive: The Creation Of A Female Celebrity – Foundling Museum". Foundling Museum. Retrieved 1 September 2018.
- Tanya Caldwell, ed.: Popular Plays by Women in the Restoration and Eighteenth Century. Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2011
- Catherine Clive: The Case of Mrs. Clive Submitted to the Public. London: B. DOD at the Bible and Key, 1744. Accessed 28 February 2015
- K. A. Crouch: "Clive , Catherine (1711–1785)." Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. 30 November 2006
- Laura Engel and Elaine M. McGirr, eds.: Stage Mothers: Women, Work, and the Theater, 1660–1830. Lenham, Maryland: Bucknell University Press, 2014
- Berta Joncus: "Catherine Clive." Mary Hays, Female Biography; or, Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women, of All Ages and Countries (1803). In: Chawton House Library Series: Women's Memoirs, ed. Gina Luria Walker, Memoirs of Women Writers Part II. Pickering & Chatto: London, 2013, vol. 7, pp. 401–404, notes, pp. 473–474
- Mary Hays as Catherine Clive: Female Biography; or Memoirs of Illustrious and Celebrated Women of all Ages and Countries. London: R. Phillips, 1803, vol. 3, pp. 399–402
- Lewis Melville: Stage Favourites of the Eighteenth Century. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday Doran & Company, Inc., 1929 (London: Hutchinson, n. d.)
- Felicity Nussbaum: Rival Queens: Actresses, Performance, and the Eighteenth-Century British Theater. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2010
- Gill Perry: The First Actresses: Nell Gwyn to Sarah Siddons. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011
- Ritchie, Fiona. Women and Shakespeare in the Eighteenth Century. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2014
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