Charles Johnson

Charles Johnson

I met a fool i’ the forest,
A motley fool.
(Jaques, Act 2 • Scene 7)

As You Like It

Charles Johnson
Playwright, Adapter

Charles Johnson, the British playwright, was born in 1679, bred to the law, and admitted a student to the Middle Temple in 1701, but, forming an acquaintance with Robert Wilks the actor, left the law and took to writing plays. When Wilks became joint-manager of Drury Lane Theatre, Johnson found no difficulty in getting his plays produced, and was chiefly famous for writing a play every season. He was in general a plagiary, without acknowledging his obligations to others, and without pretending to have only borrowed a hint, when he had borrowed a great deal; but yet, “on the whole, his dramatic writings do him credit.” Johnson wrote nineteen plays in all, and after 1733 he is said to have married a young widow with a fortune, and to have set up a tavern in Bow Street, Covent Garden. He quitted business at his wife’s death, and lived privately upon his savings, which appear to have been considerable, until his death on 11 March 1748.