Catherine "Kitty" Clive (née Rafter) (5 November 1711 – 6 December 1785) was a British actress of considerable repute on the stages of London.
Most likely born in London, her father William Rafter was an Irishman and former officer in the French army under Louis XIV. Starting at approximately age 17, she worked at the Drury Lane theatre, shortly afterwards marrying George Clive, a barrister and brother of Baron Clive. The marriage was not a success, and she returned quickly to acting. In the early 1730s she fully established herself as a popular actress, and in 1747, she became one of the founding members of David Garrick's acting company. A soprano, Clive would also occasionally sing on the stage, notably portraying Emma and Venus in the world premiere of Thomas Arne's masque Alfred in 1740. She also created the role of Dalila in Handel's 1743 oratorio Samson. Her career onstage spanned over forty years, and according to K.A. Crouch, "[h]er pay places her among the very best actresses of her generation." She also tried her hand at writing farces, with some success.
She retired in 1769 to a villa in Twickenham that had been a gift from her friend Horace Walpole, dying there in 1785. She was buried at St Mary's, Twickenham, where there is a memorial to her at the north-east corner of the church, on which a poem 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, 1750-52 "are probably the earliest full-length portrait figures in English porcelain".
References and sources
- Lynn F. Pearson, Discovering Famous Graves (2008, ISBN 0747806195), p. 82
- J.V.G. Mallet in Rococo: Art and Design in Hogarth's England (London: Victorian and Albert Museum) 1984 (exhibition catalogue) O14 p 248.
- Crouch, K. A.. “Clive , Catherine (1711–1785).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Oxford: OUP, 2004. 30 Nov. 2006.
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