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"A MATTER-OF-FACT ROMANCE"
The sometimes pugnacious Reade researched extensively and wrote passionately on subjects of social significance along with his many peers including Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Benjamin Disraeli and Charles Kingsley. __________
This is one of his finest and most beloved romance novels.
Charles Reade was born at Ipsden House, Oxfordshire, England, on 8 June, 1814, one of eleven children of John Reade, an Oxfordshire squire, and Anna Maria Scott-Waring, a devout evangelical. One of his brothers, William Barrington Reade, would become a seaman. Reade was privately educated and then, as per his mother's expectations that he would later enter the church, he enrolled at Magdalen College, Oxford University. He would later become a Dean of Arts and Vice President. In 1842 he was called to the bar but never practiced, though his legal training would serve him well in his later novels that markedly relied on facts and presentation of evidence in argument and style of an advocate. Whilst a student Reade was known for his quasi-bohemian lifestyle, unorthodox dress and views, and ultimately was not interested in becoming ordained.
Reade's hearts' desire was to become a dramatist, so he started writing plays and enjoying the theatre life of London, though many of his plays are stilted by melodrama and under-developed characters. As a talented violinist, he was also partner with a Soho violin making company for a while. The Ladies' Battle (1851) was his first comedic effort to play at the Olympic Theatre. Other plays were to follow, but his collaboration with Tom Taylor on Masks and Faces (1852) was met with critical acclaim. Reade met actress Laura Seymour (1820-1879), who would become one of his greatest supporters and friends. Owing much to Maria Edgeworth, Christie Johnstone (1853) shows Reade's exceptional talent for engaging the dialect, with a firm and empathic grasp of the culture and people of Scotland.
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