HART, CHARLES (d. 1683), English actor, grandson of Shakespeare's sister Joan, is first heard of as playing women's parts at the Blackfriars' theatre as an apprentice of Richard Robinson. In the Civil War he was a lieutenant of horse in Prince Rupert's regiment, and after the king's defeat he played surreptitiously at the Cockpit and at Holland House and other noblemen's residences. After the Restoration he is known to have been in 1660 the original Dorante in The Mistaken Beauty, adapted from Corneille's Le Menleur. In 1663 he went to the Theatre Royal in Killigrew's company, with which he remained until 1682, taking leading parts in Dryden's, Jonson's and Beaumont and Fletcher's plays. He is highly spoken of by contemporaries in such Shakespearian parts as Othello and Brutus. He is often mentioned by Pepys. Betterton praised him, and would not himself play the part of Hotspur until after Hart's retirement. He died in 1683 and was buried on the 20th of August. Hart is said to have been the first lover of Nell Gwyn, and to have trained her for the stage.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)