Charles Reade was born at Ipsden, Oxfordshire, on June 8, 1814. He entered Magdalen College, at Oxford, earning his B.A. in 1835, and became a fellow of the college. He was subsequently dean of arts, and vice-president of Magdalen College, earning his degree of D.C.L. in 1847. His name was entered at Lincoln's Inn in 1836; he was elected Vinerian Fellow in 1842, and was called to the bar in 1843. He kept his fellowship at Magdalen all his life, but after earning his degree, he spent the greater part of his time in London. His first comedy, The Ladies' Battle, appeared at the Olympic Theatre in May 1851. It was followed by Angela (1851), A Village Tale (1852), The Lost Husband (1852), and Gold (1853). But Reade's reputation was made by the two-act comedy, Masks and Faces, in which he collaborated with Tom Taylor. It was produced in November 1852. He made his name as a novelist in 1856, when he produced It's Never Too Late to Mend, a novel written with the purpose of reforming abuses in prison discipline and the treatment of criminals. Five minor novels followed in quick succession, The Course of True Love never did run Smooth in 1857, Jack of all Trades in 1858, The Autobiography of a Thief in 1858, Love Me Little, Love Me Long in 1859, and White Lies in1860, dramatized as The Double Marriage. In 1861, his masterpiece, The Cloister and the Hearth, was published, relating the adventures of the father of Erasmus. At intervals throughout his literary career he sought to gratify his dramatic ambition, hiring a theatre and engaging a company for the representation of his own plays. His greatest success as a dramatist was his last attempt, Drink, an adaptation of Zola's L'Assommoir, produced in 1879. Reade's health began to fail not long after, and he died in April of 1884, leaving behind him a completed novel, A Perilous Secret.