Charles Reade, the youngest of the eleven children of John Reade and his wife Anna Maria Scott-Waring, was born at Ipsden House, Oxfordshire, England, June 8, 1814. He was privately educated, then went to Oxford for four years where he obtained a fellowship which he retained during his entire life, although he spent little time at the University. He was admitted to the bar in 1843 but never practiced. He began writing plays in 1849, some of which were very successful, and he loved to associate with people of the theater. Laura Seymour, an actress, was his intimate companion until her death in 1879, and it was through her urging that he wrote, in 1853, his first novel, "Peg Woffington," an adaptation of his comedy "Masks and Faces." Many novels followed, most of which would be very readable if thoroughly blue-pencilled. They are usually too long—a fault not confined to his period—and he did love to moralize. "The Cloister and the Hearth" and "Foul Play" are excellent. In spite of having studied law, or perhaps because of it, he was involved in many lawsuits. He died April II, 1884.
REFERENCES: M. Elwin, Charles Reade; W. C. Phillips, Dickens, Reade and Collins: C. L. and C. Reade, Charles Reade; A Memoir, 2 vols.; The Bookman (N.Y.), XI, 1900, 312, portrait; Allibone, Dict. Eng. Lit., II and Supplement, II; Leslie's Monthly, XVIII, 648, woodcut.
Fireside Library. Nos. 101, 103, 120, 136
Waverley Library (quarto). Nos. 91, 102, 110, 227