Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Edmund Kean’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Junius Brutus Booth
1 May 1796 – 30 November 1852

PastedGraphic-2016-02-15-06-00.png

Junius Brutus Booth

Junius Brutus Booth was born in St. Pancras, London, Great Britain, the son of Richard Booth, a lawyer and avid supporter of the American cause, and Jane Elizabeth Game. His paternal grandfather was John Booth, a silversmith, and his paternal grandmother, Elizabeth Wilkes, was a relative of the English radical and politician John Wilkes. While he was growing up, Booth’s father tried to settle his son in a lengthy succession of professions. Booth recalls of his childhood, “I was destined by my Controllers first for the Printing office, then to be an architect, then to be a sculptor and modeler, then a lawyer, then a sailor, of all of these I preferred those of sculptor and modeler.”

In August 1814, Junius met Marie Christine Adelaide Delannoy while boarding at her mother’s home in Brussels. She followed him to London where they eventually married on 17 May 1815, soon after his 19th birthday. Their first child, Amelia, was born 5 October of the same year, but died in infancy. The only child to survive infancy, Richard Junius Booth, was born 21 January 1819.

Booth’s interests in theatre came after he attended a production of Othello at the Covent Garden Theatre. The prospects of fame, fortune and freedom were very appealing to young Booth. He displayed a talent for acting from an early age, deciding on a career in the theatre by the age of 17. He performed roles in several small theatres throughout England, and joined a tour of the Low Countries in 1814, returning the following year to make his London debut.

Booth gained national renown in England with his performance in the title role of Richard III in 1817 at the Covent Garden Theatre. Critics compared his performances favorably with those of Edmund Kean, who was at the time the foremost tragedian in Britain. Partisans of the two actors, called Boothites and Keanites, would occasionally start rows at venues where the two were playing together. This did not stop the two from performing in the same plays; Kean and Booth acted in several Shakespearean productions at the Drury Lane Theatre from 1817 to 1821. Kean then saw Booth as a threat and orchestrated a way for the two of them to perform those roles yet again, planning to outperform his opponent. Kean’s long-standing presence contributed to Booth’s neverending comparisons to his rival.

In 1821, Booth emigrated to the United States with Mary Ann Holmes, a flower girl, abandoning his wife and their young son. Booth and Holmes claimed to be married that year and settled in 1822 near Bel Air, Maryland. For years they lived in a log cabin Booth bought, moved to his 150 acres, and whitewashed. Just before his death, he began building a much grander house which he named Tudor Hall. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Booth was quickly hired to play Richard III. In less than a year, Booth became the most prominent actor in the United States. Critic William Winter said, “He was followed as a marvel. Mention of his name stirred an enthusiasm no other could awaken” (Smith 23). He embarked upon a 30-year acting career that made him famous throughout the country. Booth traveled to such cities as Baltimore, Boston, and New York

A persistent story, but apocryphal according to some sources, is that Junius Brutus Booth was acclaimed for performing Orestes in the French language in New Orleans. Theatrical manager Noah Ludlow, who was performing with Booth at the time at the American theatre in New Orleans, recounts the actual events starting on page 230 of his memoir Dramatic Life As I Found It and concludes: “Therefore I consider the story of Mr. Booth having performed Orestes in the French language, on the French stage, altogether a mistake arising from his having acted that character in the French theatre of New Orleans in 1822, but in the English language.” However, Stephen M. Archer notes that Ludlow was in Mobile, Alabama, in 1828, so was not present for this performance. The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC, has two playbills from the production and both are in French. Booth’s daughter Asia wrote that her father spoke fluent French and cited a review on the subject. The review was not oblivious to the fact that Booth’s French pronunciation was less than perfect, however. In 1823, Booth did the role in New York in the English adaptation by Ambrose Philips with Mary Ann Duff as Hermione.

In 1825–1826 and 1836–1837, Booth made tours of his native England. He took his whole family with him for the second of these. During their stay in England, one of his children, Henry Byron, succumbed to smallpox. By 1831, he had become the manager of the Adelphi Theatre in Baltimore. His acclaim continued to grow throughout the rest of his life; Walt Whitman described him as “the grandest histrion [sic] of modern times.” Although his relationship with Holmes, his supposed wife, was relatively happy, four of their children died, three in the same year (1833), when epidemics of cholera occurred. In addition, he suffered from alcoholism, which had an effect on the entire family.

Booth’s alcoholism also caused him to become increasingly unpredictable and reckless. He would drop lines, miss scenes, and cause chaos onstage. During a performance of Hamlet, Booth suddenly left the scene he was playing with Ophelia, scurried up a ladder, and perched up in the backdrops crowing like a rooster until his manager retrieved him. He was once booked for a sold-out performance in Richmond, then disappeared from town for several days. Eventually, he was found with “ragged, besotted wretches, the greatest actor on the American stage.” He soon became so unreliable that he had to be locked into his hotel rooms with a guard standing watch. Often, he would still find ways of escaping to drink at a nearby tavern.

Some historians and critics have claimed that reality could become overwhelming for Booth, so he would flee into alcoholism and the roles he played. One critic said of Booth that the “personality of the actor was forgotten, and all the details seemed spontaneous workings and unconscious illustrations of the character he represented. He seemed to be possessed by the characters, losing his own identity.” Such subjective judgments are perhaps too facile, as Edwin Booth’s later comment about his father certainly was: “Great minds to madness closely are allied.” In any case, from February 1817 onward, Junius Booth played almost 3000 performances. Booth brought a romantic, natural acting style to America, which he pioneered in the hearts of American audiences.

To help him maintain a modicum of stability and also to ensure that he sent his earnings home to the family, Junius and Mary Ann chose their son Edwin to accompany him as his dresser, aid, and guardian. This was an exhausting job because Junius Brutus could go without sleep for very long periods of time and would often disappear.

In 1835, Booth wrote a letter to President Andrew Jackson, demanding he pardon two pirates. In the letter, he threatened to kill the President. Though there would also be an actual attempt of assassination on the President early that year, the letter was believed to be a hoax, until a handwriting analysis of a letter written some days after the threat concluded that the letter was, in fact, written by Booth. Booth apologized to Jackson, though since he and Jackson were friends, the “threat” likely was Booth’s clumsy attempt at a joke. Decades later, Booth’s son, John Wilkes, assassinated president Abraham Lincoln.

In 1852, he was involved in a tour of California with his sons Edwin and Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., performing in San Francisco and Sacramento, where torrential rains not only closed the theatres, but also seriously depleted food supplies. Inflation skyrocketed, and the Booths returned to San Francisco without having made a penny. On 1 October, he left San Francisco without either of his sons. (Junius, Jr. had previously established his home there, and Edwin struck out on his own, acting in various venues in northern California).

Booth had told his first wife, at the time of his initial departure from England, that he would be touring the United States for several years, but would send her money to support her and his young son, Richard, but Booth’s sister and brother-in-law later arrived with their children from England and demanded to be housed and supported in exchange for keeping quiet about his American family. After some years, this arrangement became financially untenable, and Booth stopped sending his wife money so regularly. This prompted Adelaide to send their son, now 25, to Baltimore. For three years, Booth somehow fooled him into believing that he lived alone, but eventually Richard discovered the truth. He sent word to his mother, who arrived in Baltimore in December 1846 and confronted Booth when he returned home from touring in March. After living the requisite three years in Maryland, she was able to divorce him in February 1851.

On 10 May 1851, with the youngest of their 10 children now 11 years of age, Booth finally legally married Mary Ann Holmes.

While traveling by steamboat from New Orleans to Cincinnati in 1852, Booth developed a fever, presumably from drinking impure river water. No physician was on board, and he died aboard the steamboat near Louisville, Kentucky, on 30 November 1852. Booth’s widow, Mary Anne, traveled in Cincinnati alone to claim his body.

Booth is buried in Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

James Sheridan Knowles
12 May 1784 – 30 November 1862

PastedGraphic-2015-11-3-06-00.png

James Sheridan Knowles

James Sheridan Knowles was born in Cork. His father was the lexicographer James Knowles (1759–1840), cousin of Richard Brinsley Sheridan. The family moved to London in 1793, and at the age of fourteen Knowles published a ballad entitled The Welsh Harper, which, set to music, was very popular. His talents secured him the friendship of William Hazlitt, who introduced him to Charles Lamb and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. He served for some time in the Wiltshire and afterwards in the Tower Hamlets militia, leaving the service to become a pupil of Dr Robert Willan (1757–1812). He obtained the degree of M.D., and was appointed vaccinator to the Jennerian Society.

Although Dr Willan offered him a share in his practice, Knowles decided to give up medicine for the stage, making his first appearance as an actor probably at Bath, and played Hamlet at the Crow Theatre, Dublin. At Wexford he married, in October 1809, Maria Charteris, an actress from the Edinburgh Theatre. In 1810 he wrote Leo, a successful play in which Edmund Kean appeared; another play, Brian Boroihme, written for the Belfast Theatre in the next year, attracted crowds; nevertheless, Knowles’s earnings were so small that he was obliged to become assistant to his father at the Belfast Academical Institution. In 1817 he moved from Belfast to Glasgow, where, besides keeping a flourishing school, he continued to write for the stage.

His first important success was Caius Gracchus, produced at Belfast in 1815; and his Virginius, written for Edmund Kean, was first performed in 1820 at Covent Garden. In William Tell (1825), Knowles wrote for William Charles Macready one of his favourite parts. His best-known play, The Hunchback, was produced at Covent Garden in 1832, and Knowles won praise acting in the work as Master Walter. The Wife was brought out at the same theatre in 1833; and The Love Chase in 1837.

In his later years he forsook the stage for the pulpit, and as a Baptist preacher attracted large audiences at Exeter Hall and elsewhere. He published two polemical works: the Rock of Rome and the Idol Demolished by Its Own Priests in both of which he combated the special doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church. Knowles was for some years in the receipt of an annual pension of £200, bestowed by Sir Robert Peel in 1849. In old age he befriended the young Edmund Gosse, whom he introduced to Shakespeare. Knowles makes a happy appearance in Gosse’s Father and Son. He died at Torquay on 30 November 1862.

A full list of the works of Knowles and of the various notices of him will be found in the The Life of James Sheridan Knowles (1872), privately printed by his son, Richard Brinsley Knowles (1820–1882), who was well known as a journalist. It was translated into German.

Plays

  • Leo; or, The Gipsy (1810)
  • Brian Boroihme; or, The Maid of Erin (1811)
  • Caius Gracchus (1815)
  • Virginius (1820) A Tragedy in Five Acts
  • William Tell (1825)
  • The Beggar’s Daughter of Bethnal Green (1828)
  • Alfred the Great; or The Patriot King (1831)
  • The Hunchback (1832)
  • A Masque (in one act and in verse on the death of Sir Walter Scott) (1832)
  • The Wife; A Tale of Mantua (1833)
  • The Beggar of Bethnal Green (1834)
  • The Daughter (1837)
  • The Love Chase (1837)
  • Woman’s Wit; or, Loves Disguises (1838)
  • The Maid of Mariendorpt (1838)
  • Love (1839)
  • John of Procida; or, The Bridals of Messina (1840)
  • Old Maids (1841)
  • The Rose of Arragon (1842)
  • The Secretary (1843)
  • The Bridal (1847) (An adaptation of The Maid’s Tragedy)
  • Alexina; or, True unto Death (1866)

Novels and short stories

  • The Magdalen and Other Tales (1832)
  • Fortescue (1847)
  • George Lovell (1852)
  • Old Adventures (1859)
  • Tales and Novelettes etc. (1874)

Poetry

  • A Collection of Poems on Various Subjects (1810)
  • Fugitive Pieces
  • The Senate, or Social Villagers of Kentish Town, a Canto (1817)

Theological writings

  • The Rock of Rome; or, The Arch Heresy (1849)
  • The Idol Demolished by Its Own Priest (1852) (An answer to Cardinal Wiseman’s Lectures on Transubstantiation.)
  • The Gospel Attributed to Matthew in the Record of the Whole Original Apostlehood (1855)

Non-fiction

  • The Elocutionist (1831) (A collection of pieces in prose and verse; peculiarly adapted to display the art of reading…)
  • A Treatise on the Climate of Madeira (1850)
  • The Debater’s Handbook (1862)
  • Lectures on Dramatic Literature (1875)

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

George Frederick Cooke
17 April 1756 – 26 September 1812

PastedGraphic1-2015-08-30-06-00.png

George Frederick Cooke

George Frederick Cooke claimed to have been born in Westminster, it seems likely that he was the illegitimate child of a British soldier in Dublin. He was raised in Berwick-upon-Tweed, where in 1764 he was apprenticed to a printer. However, early exposure to strolling players made an impact. By the end of the decade he had gotten himself released from his apprenticeship and become an expert.

He made his first appearance on the stage in Brentford at the age of twenty as Dumont in Nicholas Rowe’s Jane Shore. His first London appearance was at the Haymarket Theatre in 1778; he played in benefit performances of Thomas Otway’s The Orphan, Charles Johnson’s The Country Lasses, and David Garrick and George Colman’s The Clandestine Marriage. Almost immediately, however, he returned to the country, and he spent the next decade and more touring, from Hull to Liverpool. He first performed with Sarah Siddons in York in 1786; by that time he had earned a substantial provincial reputation. In 1794 in Dublin, as Othello, he first attained high rank in a national capital; by 1800, London critics had dubbed him the Dublin Roscius. His unusually long provincial apprenticeship in many ways served him well. After an initial concentration on romantic leads, particularly in comedy, he gradually found his metier playing rakes and villains. As a regional star, he performed with Siddons, Dorothy Jordan and other London celebrities; he had over 300 roles in his repertoire.

At the same time, he developed a drinking problem, and a reputation for unreliability inevitably followed. A binge drinker, Cooke would abandon his duties for weeks at a time, often spending whatever money he had in the process. Shortly after his first triumph in Dublin, he disappeared from the stage for over a year. At some point in 1795, he had enlisted in the British Army, in a regiment due for deployment to the Caribbean. He was extricated from the military by the efforts of theatre owners in Manchester and Portsmouth, and he returned to Dublin in 1796.

In 1801, he appeared at the Theatre Royal, Covent Garden as Richard III; this role would become his most famous. That year he also played Shylock (The Merchant of Venice), Iago (Othello), Macbeth, Kitely (Ben Jonson’s Every Man in His Humour), and Giles Overreach, and became the rival of Kemble, with whom, however, and with Mrs. Siddons, he acted from 1803. In 1802 he added roles in Edward Moore’s The Gamester and Charles Macklin’s Man of the World.

After Kemble and Siddons came to Covent Garden in 1803, the rivalry between the two actors unfolded on one stage instead of two. Fittingly, they debuted in Richard III, though Kemble played the title role and Cooke Richmond. Shortly later they acted in John Home’s Douglas: Cooke played Glenalvon to Kemble’s Old Norval, and Siddons was Lady Randolph. Washington Irving records seeing the group in Othello (Cooke was Iago, and Charles Kemble was Cassio); he called the performance delightful.

For the next decade, Cooke was an erratic star in London. Already a confirmed alcoholic when he arrived, he grew steadily less reliable as his career progressed. Already in 1801, he was unable to perform because he was drunk; such failures became more frequent in later years. In 1807, after failing to appear for his summer season in Manchester, he was jailed in Westmorland for several months. In the last years of the decade, he managed to curb his excesses to some extent; he was, for instance, frequently on stage during the Old Price riots.

However, he was unhappy with his treatment by the London press, and he was easily persuaded to travel to the United States in 1810. American audiences received him enthusiastically. He premiered as Richard III in New York on 11 November. Escorted by William Dunlap, he remained sober and performed in Boston, where he played opposite English tragedienne Mary Ann Duff, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Providence. Thomas Sully painted him as Richard; the result is generally considered Sully’s best painting of a human figure. He earned 20,000 dollars for his efforts, but the windfall reaped by the theater-owners (more than $250,000) left him feeling bitter and exploited. By 1812, he had accepted an invitation to return to Covent Garden. The outbreak of the War of 1812 stranded him in New York. He died of cirrhosis at the Mechanics’ Hall in Manhattan on 26 September.

A monument to his memory was erected in St. Paul’s chapel (on Fulton Street) by Edmund Kean during his first American tour in 1821. Barry Cornwall claimed that Kean brought Cooke’s big toe back to England, where his disgusted wife subsequently threw it away. Other biographers claim Kean stole a finger rather than a toe, and a relatively unreliable American writer claims that after Cooke’s skull was used as the skull of Yorick in a performance of Hamlet, members of a private New York club (including Daniel Webster and Henry Wheaton) subjected the skull to phrenological examination.
]
Cooke’s personal life was, unsurprisingly, markedly chaotic. Even apart from his binges, he was profligate and generous with his money, so that he rarely enjoyed a prolonged period of security. He married late. In September 1808 in Edinburgh he married Sarah Lamb. She accompanied him to London for the 1808 season, but in February 1809 Sarah returned to her family in Newark-on-Trent and was not associated with the actor thereafter. In New York, he married Violet Mary Behn, the daughter of a coffee-house owner. He left at his death $2000, all that remained of a lifetime as a famous actor.

Cooke may be called the first fully romantic actor in England. He drew on the style of Garrick and Macklin, both of whom he saw in his youth; he expanded on their naturalness and informality of style. That Kean idolized him is perhaps sufficient to suggest his style; there are also the contrasts that period critics saw between his style and that of the refined, dignified Kemble.

Cooke was about 5’10”, with a commanding stage presence and a long, aquiline nose. His stage presence was generally described as commanding, although many observers noted that his voice tended to become hoarse in the later acts of challenging plays. He was, like Garrick, a restless, physically dynamic performer; critics also noted his skill in using his eyes to convey complex thoughts or emotions, and his ability to project stage-whispers even in a large venue.

Little record of response to his early romantic roles exists; however, his technique in his mature tragic roles is abundantly recorded. He was at his best in roles of suave or energetic villainy or hypocrisy. In comedy, his Macsarcasm (from Macklin’s Love à la Mode) and Shylock were considered unsurpassable. In tragedy, in addition to Richard, he was a notable Iago. Though King Lear was not one of his signature roles, his interpretation of Lear’s madness influenced that of Kean and other actors.

Yet his performance in roles that required refinement or restraint was almost universally disparaged—perhaps inevitably, given the looming shadow of Kemble. His Hamlet was a failure. As Macbeth, he was said to manage nothing better than “low cunning.” Henry Crabb Robinson reports that Cooke failed in Kotzebue’s The Stranger; Robinson expressed a common opinion when he concludes that however compelling a presence, Cooke was too coarse for the greatest tragic roles. Leigh Hunt agreed, arguing that Cooke reduced all of his characters to their lowest motives. Of Cooke’s famous style of declamation (like Macklin, he delivered soliloquies as if thinking aloud), Hunt complained that it merely turned Shakespeare’s poetry into indignant prose.

As Richard III, Cooke offered an interpretation that both differed from and excelled Kemble’s rather staid performance. In such melodramatic scenes as the murder of Henry VI, Cooke excelled in conveying Richard’s horrid glee (as, indeed, had Kemble); unlike Kemble, however, Cooke was also able to convey a sense of Richard’s disgust with himself. This aspect of Richard was most notable in his discussion of his hunchback and in his response to Norfolk’s doggerel in 5.2. Where Kemble had simply brushed the bad news aside, Cooke pondered the verse carefully before rejecting it without force. The effect was to deepen Richard’s characterization, providing him with a gradually increasing awareness of his own villainy. Cooke’s Richard was, then, something more than the fairy-tale ogre described by Charles Lamb.

On the whole, though, the limits of Cooke’s talent are indicated by the probably apocryphal story related by Macready and others. Wishing to impress well-born visitors with his mimetic talent, Cooke made a number of faces meant to represent various emotions. One of his looks stumped the visitors. They guessed rage, anger, and revenge before Cooke, exasperated, told them it was meant to be love.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Mary Ann Duff
1794- September 5, 1857

PastedGraphic-2015-08-10-06-00.png

Mary Ann Duff

Mary Ann Duff and her younger sisters Elizabeth and Ann were all born in London. Their father was an Englishman, employed in the service of the British East India Company, and he died abroad while they were children. Their mother prepared them for the stage under James Harvey D’Egville, ballet-master of the King’s Theatre, London.

The sisters made their first appearance in 1809, at a Dublin theatre and were described as “remarkable for beauty of person and winning sweetness of disposition.” While Mary was performing in Dublin, she met Irish poet Thomas Moore who proposed to her but was rejected as Mary had already formed an attachment to the man who became her husband. Moore turned his attentions to her sister Elizabeth whom he married soon after. Mary Ann married in her sixteenth year John R. Duff (1787–1831), an Irish actor. (The youngest sister Ann married William Murray, the brother of Harriet Murray), but died soon after the marriage.) John Duff had been a classmate of Moore at Trinity College, where he had read law, but was drawn to the stage. He was seen in Dublin by actor Thomas Apthorpe Cooper who recommended him to Powell and Dickson of the Boston Theatre. He was immediately engaged and he and Mary, barely sixteen, moved to America in 1810. In 1817, John became a partner in the Boston Theatre but relinquished his share after three years.

Mary Ann Duff first appeared in Boston as Juliet on December 31, 1810 with her husband as Romeo. The part of Mercutio was played by John Bernard. Although one critic remarked on her attractiveness, he felt that her youth with its concomitant lack of experience caused her performance to lack “both conception and power.”

Her next performance was on January 3, 1811, when she played Lady Anne in Richard III with George Frederick Cooke in the title rôle, following it with Lady Rodolpha Lumbercourt to his Sir Pertinax MacSycophant in Charles Macklin’s Man of the World, Charlotte to his Sir Archy MacSarcasm in Love a la Mode by the same author, and Lady Percy to his Falstaff in Henry IV, Part 1. Other roles she played at this time were Miranda, opposite her husband as Marplot, in The Busy Bodie by Susanna Centlivre and Eliza Ratcliff with John Bernard as Sheva in The Jew by Richard Cumberland. She also appeared in the pantomimes Oscar and Malvina by William Reeve, in which she also danced, and Brazen Mask by James Hewitt. On April 29, 1811 the Duffs appeared at a benefit in which Mary danced a solo while her husband performed in The Three and the Deuce by Prince Hoare. The latter was so popular that he would go on to repeat this triple-role performance more than eighty times over the course of his career. Mary’s first season in Boston ended with Victoria in Hannah Cowley’s A Bold Stroke for a Husband.

In July, the company made its annual migration to Providence, Rhode Island. Ellen Darley (neé Westwray) having retired as leading “juvenile lady”, Mary succeeded to most of her characters.

Other tragic rôles included Ophelia, Desdemona, and Lady Macbeth. In 1821, also in Boston, she played Hermione in The Distrest Mother, by Ambrose Philips, an adaptation of Racine’s Andromaque. So powerful was her performance that Edmund Kean feared it might be forgotten that he was the “star.” She first appeared in New York City in 1823, as Hermione, to the Orestes of the elder Booth.

In 1828, she played at Drury Lane, London, but soon returned to America where Mr. Duff died in 1831. He had been for some time in poor health and had declined in professional popularity, while his wife, at first viewed as inferior to him in ability, had surpassed and eclipsed him. After her husband’s death, Mary had a hard struggle with poverty, as she was the mother of ten children and actors, even of the best order, were poorly paid in those days. In 1826, in New York, Mr. and Mrs. Duff received jointly, during ten weeks, a salary of only $55 a week, together with the net proceeds of one benefit. In 1835, she played for the last time in New York and was married to Joel G. Sevier, of New Orleans in 1836. Her farewell to the stage in 1838 occurred there.

She lived in New Orleans, renounced the Stage, left the Catholic faith, and became a Methodist. For many years her life was devoted to works of piety and benevolence. About 1854, the once great and renowned actress, took up her abode with her youngest daughter, Mrs. I. Reillieux, at 36 West Ninth Street, New York City, where, on September 5, 1857, she died. Although she suffered from cancer, the immediate cause of death was an internal hemorrhage.

An article in The Philadelphia Sunday Mercury, August 9, 1874, written by James Rees, relates the strange circumstances of her burial. According to that authority, the body of Mrs. Duff-Sevier was laid in the receiving tomb at Greenwood, September 6, 1857, and shortly afterward that of her daughter, Mrs. Reillieux, was likewise laid there; but on April 15, 1858, both those bodies were thence removed and were finally buried in the same grave, which is No. 805, in Lot 8,999, in that part of the cemetery known as “The Hill of Graves,” — the certificate describing them as “Mrs. Matilda I. Reillieux & Co.” The grave was then marked with a headstone, inscribed with the words, “My Mother and Grandmother.” There seems to have been a purpose to conceal the identity of Mrs. Sevier with Mrs. Duff, and to hide the fact that the mother of Mrs. Reillieux had ever been on the stage, — but the grave of the actress was finally discovered and restored.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Stephen Kemble
April 21 1758 to June 5 1822

Another of the many children of Roger Kemble who took up acting.

As his father before him, Stephen became a theater manager. The Theatre Royal, Newcastle from 1791 to 1806. He brought his famous family members from London and other notables to act upon its stage. With his sister Sarah Siddons staring, it made acing in the provinces respectable. His success in Newcastle and elevating the citizenry there in their appreciation of the arts, allowed him to also manage theaters in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Chester, Lancaster, Sheffield, Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, Alnwick and circuit theaters for Durham, North Shields, Sunderland, South Shields, Stockton, and Scarborough. Also Northallerton, Morpeth, Broadway, Whitehaven, Paislie, Northampton, Birmingham, Dumfries, Portsmouth and Dundee.

In his role as manager he supported many leading actors careers, including family members like his nephew Henry, his brother Charles, his wife Elizabeth Satchell. And also such greats as Edmund Kean, John Phillip Kemble, Sarah Siddons, and Dorothea Jordan.

PastedGraphic1-2012-11-25-09-24.jpg

Stephen was also an actor and he was famous for playing Falstaff, the most famous comic role in the English Canon. After playing the role at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, it was noted with regret that he was so busy in the country that he could not continue to grace the London stage. After his death he was noted as the greatest performer of Falstaff. He played other roles as well, Hamlet, Lear, Othello, but with his brother John Phillip or Edmund Kean about, it would be hard to win greater acclaim. The way he chose to portray his characterizations were to address injustice.

PastedGraphic2-2012-11-25-09-24.jpg\

As a member of the theater community, he also was a playwright. His The Northern Inn was also know as The Northern Lass, or, Days of Good Queen Bess, The Good Times of Queen Bess. He also had a collection of his writings published. Ods, Lyrical Ballads and Poems

He wrote of the Battle of Trafalgar, the death of Nelson, the death of Burns, and he became an abolitionist as well supporting the Slave Trade Act of 1807. He published a play called Flodden Field, which was performed to applause.

PastedGraphic3-2012-11-25-09-24.jpg

He retied to Durham in 1806 and lived their until his death in 1822. He made friends with a dwarf, Jozef Boruwlaski, and they are buried beside each other in Durham Cathedral. He had last performed just a two weeks before his death. When he died, the heyday of Durham theatre also ended.

Previous Notables (Click to see the Blog):

George III George IV Georgiana Cavendish
William IV Lady Hester Stanhope Lady Caroline Lamb
Princess Charlotte Queen Charlotte Charles James Fox
Queen Adelaide Dorothea Jordan Jane Austen
Maria Fitzherbert Lord Byron John Keats
Princess Caroline Percy Bysshe Shelley Cassandra Austen
Edmund Kean Thomas Clarkson Sir John Moore
John Burgoyne William Wilberforce Richard Brinsley Sheridan
Sarah Siddons Josiah Wedgwood Emma Hamilton
Hannah More John Phillip Kemble John Jervis, Earl St. Vincent
Ann Hatton


There will be many other notables coming, a full and changing list can be found here on the blog as I keep adding to it. The list so far is:

Harriet Mellon
Mary Robinson
Wellington (the Military man)
George Elphinstone, 1st Viscount Keith
Horatio Nelson
Cuthbert Collingwood
Thomas Troubridge
Admiral Sir Graham Moore
Admiral Sir William Sydney Smith
Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville
Howe

Zachary Macaulay

Packenham
General Banastre Tarleton
Henry Paget
Sir William Hamilton
Stapleton Cotton
Sir Charles Grey
Thomas Picton
Constable
Lawrence
Cruikshank
Gillray
Joshua Reynolds
Horace Walpole
Rowlandson
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Sir Marc Brunel
Marquis of Stafford George Leveson-Gower
George Stephenson
William Huskisson
Robert Stephenson
Fanny Kemble
Mary Shelley
Ann Radcliffe
Paul III Anton, Prince Esterházy
Charles Arbuthnot
Thomas Egerton, 2nd Earl of Wilton
Henry Herbert Southey
John Nash
Matthew Gregory Lewis
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Thomas Hope
William Beechey
Scrope Davies
Henry Holland
Sir Walter Scott
Lord Elgin
Jeffery Wyatville
Hester Thrale
William Windham
Madame de Stael
James Boswell
Edward Eliot
George Combe
Sir Harry Smith
Juana Maria de Los Dolores de Leon (Lady Smith)
Duke of Argyll, George William Campbell (1766-1839)
Lord Barrymore, Richard Barry (1769-1794)
Lord Bedford, Francis Russell (1765-1802)
Mr. G. Dawson Damer (1788-1856)
Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish (1748-1811)
Lord Foley, Thomas Foley (1780-1833)
Colonel George Hanger (c.1751-1824)
Lord Hertford, Francis Seymour-Ingram (1743-1822)
Lord Yarmouth, Francis Charles Seymour-Ingram (1777-1842)
Edward “Golden Ball” Hughes (1798-1863)
Earl of Jersey, George Bussey Villiers (1735-1805)
Sir John , John Lade (1759-1838)
Duke of Norfolk, Charles Howard (1746-1815)
Duke of York , Frederick Augustus Hanover (1763-1827)
Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1785 as Duc d’ Orleans (1747-1793)
Louis Philippe, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1793 as Duc d’ Orleans (1773-1850)
Captain John (Jack) Willett Payne (1752-1803)
Viscount Petersham, Charles Stanhope(1780-1851)
Duke of Queensberry, William Douglas (1724-1810)
Duke of Rutland, John Henry Manners(1778-1857)
Lord Sefton, William Philip Molyneux (1772-1838)
Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour (1759-1801)
Sir Lumley St. George Skeffington Baronet (1771 – 1850)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1766-1835)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1792-1853)
Hon. Frederick Gerald aka “Poodle” Byng
Edward Pellew
Thomas Cochrane
Warren Hastings
Mendoza
Edmund Burke

The Dandy Club
        Beau Brummell
        William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley
        Henry Mildmay
        Henry Pierrepoint

Patronesses of Almacks
        Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper
        Amelia Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh
        Sarah Villiers, Countess of Jersey
        Maria Molyneux, Countess of Sefton
        Mrs. Drummond Burrell
        Dorothea Lieven, Countess de Lieven, wife of the Russian Ambassador
        Countess Esterhazy, wife of the Austrian Ambassador

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Edmund Kean
March 17 1789 to May 15 1833

In his time, Kean was regarded as the greatest actor ever.

PastedGraphic-2012-11-11-16-16.jpg

Kean was probably the son of Edmund Kean and Anne Carey, which means there is a little uncertainty about his father. His mother being an actress, such was common. He first took the stage at age four. At around age 7 some benefactors paid for him to go to school, but then he shipped out of Portsmouth as a a cabin boy. He seemed to be able to fend for himself at an early age. Playing deaf and fooling the doctors, he was ably to return to England.

Now he sought out his uncle Moses Kean, who was a general entertainer who fought him Shakespeare. And Miss Charlotte Tidswell taught him acting. When Uncle Moses died Miss Tidswell took charge of him. The interpretations of Shakespeare that Kean now developed were different then those of John Phillip Kemble who was considered the greatest Shakespearean of the times. Kean was adopted for a short while by a Mrs. Clarke, but comments at her house caused him to leave and return to his old haunts.

PastedGraphic1-2012-11-11-16-16.jpg

At age 14 he played in York Theater for 20 nights including the role of Hamlet. He then went to Richardson’s Theater, a travelling company and the rumors of his skill reached King George III, who asked for a performance at Windsor Castle. After this he fell and broke both legs which from then on troubled him.

He continued to learn, dancing, music, and fencing. by 1807 he was performing in Belfast with Sarah Siddons who said he “played very, very well,” but that he was “a horrid little man.”

In 1808 he met and married Mary Chambers who bore him 2 sons.

PastedGraphic2-2012-11-11-16-16.jpg

Drury Lane beckoned in 1814 for they were on the brink of bankruptcy and wanted to try anything. He opened as Shylock on January 26th 1814 and roused the audience immediately. Then he played Richard III, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear. He was a triumph.

By 1817 Kean was such a power in the theatre that playwrights had to cater to him. The case of Charles Bucke and The Italians illustrates this that Kean, when in a contretemps with the playwright, could kill the play by his performance of it. A bad performance and a possibly good play was never to be seen again.

PastedGraphic3-2012-11-11-16-16.jpg

In 1820 Kean went to New York and gave his Richard III. In 1825 he was sued for adultery and the jury came in against Kean. His wife left him and now he was pelted with fruit on stage. He retired from performing in England.

He returned once more to America to perform, but here again, the audience received him poorly of this well publicized affair and the split with his wife. His return to England though saw that audience received him well, but he was addicted now to stimulants. He last performed Othello in 1833, his son Charles playing Iago. In act 3 scene iii, he was overcome and fell ill in the middle. He was dead in less than two months.

Previous Notables (Click to see the Blog):

George III George IV Georgiana Cavendish
William IV Lady Hester Stanhope Lady Caroline Lamb
Princess Charlotte Queen Charlotte Charles James Fox
Queen Adelaide Dorothea Jordan Jane Austen
Maria Fitzherbert Lord Byron John Keats
Princess Caroline Percy Bysshe Shelley Cassandra Austen

Thomas Clarkson


There will be many other notables coming, a full and changing list can be found here on the blog as I keep adding to it. The list so far is:

William Wilberforce
Hannah More
Richard Brinsley Sheridan
John Phillip Kemble
Sarrah Siddons
John Burgoyne
Harriet Mellon
Mary Robinson
Wellington (the Military man)
Moore
Nelson
Howe
St. Vincent
Packenham
General Banastre Tarleton
Henry Paget
Stapleton Cotton
Thomas Picton
Constable
Lawrence
Cruikshank
Gillray
Reynolds
Rowlandson
Josiah Wedgwood
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Sir Marc Brunel
Marquis of Stafford George Leveson-Gower
George Stephenson
William Huskisson
Robert Stephenson
Fanny Kemble
Mary Shelley
Ann Radcliffe
Paul III Anton, Prince Esterházy
Charles Arbuthnot
Thomas Egerton, 2nd Earl of Wilton
Henry Herbert Southey
John Nash
Matthew Gregory Lewis
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Thomas Hope
William Beechey
Beau Brummell
William Arden, 2nd Baron Alvanley
Henry Mildmay
Henry Pierrepoint
Scrope Davies
Henry Holland
Sir Walter Scott
Lord Elgin
Jeffery Wyatville
Duke of Argyll, George William Campbell (1766-1839)
Lord Barrymore, Richard Barry (1769-1794)
Lord Bedford, Francis Russell (1765-1802)
Mr. G. Dawson Damer (1788-1856)
Duke of Devonshire, William Cavendish (1748-1811)
Lord Foley, Thomas Foley (1780-1833)
Colonel George Hanger (c.1751-1824)
Lord Hertford, Francis Seymour-Ingram (1743-1822)
Lord Yarmouth, Francis Charles Seymour-Ingram (1777-1842)
Edward “Golden Ball” Hughes (1798-1863)
Earl of Jersey, George Bussey Villiers (1735-1805)
Sir John , John Lade (1759-1838)
Duke of Norfolk, Charles Howard (1746-1815)
Duke of York , Frederick Augustus Hanover (1763-1827)
Louis Philippe Joseph, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1785 as Duc d’ Orleans (1747-1793)
Louis Philippe, Duc de Chartres, acceded 1793 as Duc d’ Orleans (1773-1850)
Captain John (Jack) Willett Payne (1752-1803)
Viscount Petersham, Charles Stanhope(1780-1851)
Duke of Queensberry, William Douglas (1724-1810)
Duke of Rutland, John Henry Manners(1778-1857)
Lord Sefton, William Philip Molyneux (1772-1838)
Admiral Lord Hugh Seymour (1759-1801)
Sir Lumley St. George Skeffington Baronet (1771 – 1850)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1766-1835)
Lord Worcester, Henry Somerset (1792-1853)
Hon. Frederick Gerald aka “Poodle” Byng
Edward Pellew
Thomas Cochrane
Warren Hastings
Mendoza
Edmund Burke

Patronesses of Almacks
        Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper
        Amelia Stewart, Viscountess Castlereagh
        Sarah Villiers, Countess of Jersey
        Maria Molyneux, Countess of Sefton
        Mrs. Drummond Burrell
        Dorothea Lieven, Countess de Lieven, wife of the Russian Ambassador
        Countess Esterhazy, wife of the Austrian Ambassador

Read Full Post »