Posts Tagged ‘Monk Lewis’

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.

William Oxberry
18 December 1784 – 9 June 1824


William Oxberry

Oxberry was the son of an auctioneer, born on 18 December 1784 in Moorfields, London, opposite Bedlam. After a false start as a pupil of George Stubbs at age 14, he worked in a bookseller’s shop, and in the office in Tottenham Court Road of a printer named Seale, an amateur actor. At a stable near Queen Anne Street, and subsequently at the theatre in Berwick Street, he took on parts including Hassan in Castle Spectre (Monk Lewis) and Rosse in Macbeth.

Oxberry’s indentures were cancelled in 1802, and he appeared under Samuel Jerrold, at the Watford theatre. He joined, as low comedian, Trotter’s company (Worthing, Hythe, and Southend theatres).

In 1807 Henry Siddons recommended Oxberry to the Kemble management at Covent Garden Theatre. He made his first appearance on 7 November 1807 as Robin Roughhead in Fortune’s Frolic, but was not a critical success. At the close of the season he was released from his engagement, and went to Glasgow, where he made a success as Sir David Daw in the Wheel of Fortune. In Aberdeen he was tried as Michael Ducas in Adalgitha: he then played other tragic roles.

After returning to Glasgow, Oxberry accepted from Raymond an engagement in London at the Lyceum Theatre, then known as the English Opera House, and appeared in a piece by Henry Siddons, called ‘The Russian Impostor,’ in which he made a success.

He was then engaged for the Lyceum by Arnold. An engagement at Drury Lane Theatre followed. and he played for the first time with the burnt-out company at the Lyceum, in1809, as the Lay Brother in the ‘Duenna.’ After the opening of the new Drury Lane theatre his name is not mentioned until the end of the season. At Drury Lane he remained until the close of the season of 1819–20. He created many original parts in plays, dramatic or musical, by Arnold, Thomas John Dibdin, James Kenney, George Soane, and others.

Oxberry as a comic actor was not always a distinguished performer. He was compared only to John Emery as Tyke, John Lump, Robin Roughhead; his Slender, Sir David Daw, and Petro were held to have been unsurpassed. When Robert William Elliston reduced the salaries at Drury Lane, he refused the offer, and starred at minor theatres (the Surrey, the East London, and Sadler’s Wells).

Oxberry was for a long time manager of the Olympic, but the experiment collapsed. In December 1821 he took the Craven’s Head chophouse at Drury Lane, a house of literary and theatrical resort. Here he died 9 June 1824. His remains were interred in a vault in St. Clement Danes Church, Strand.

Oxberry was author of:

  • ‘The Theatrical Banquet, or the Actor’s Budget,’ 1809, 2 vols.
  • ‘The Encyclopædia of Anecdote,’ 1812.
  • ‘The History of Pugilism, and Memoirs of Persons who have distinguished themselves in that Science,’ 1814.
  • ‘The Flowers of Literature,’ 2nd edit., London, 1824, 4 vols.
  • ‘Oxberry’s Anecdotes of the Stage,’ London, 1827.

He also edited ‘The New English Drama,’ consisting of 113 plays, with prefatory remarks, in 22 vols. 1818–24; and wrote ‘The Actress of All Work,’ played in Bath on 8 May 1819, in which Elizabeth Rebecca Edwin assumed half a dozen different characters. He converted ‘He would be a Soldier’ of Pilon into ‘The High Road to Success,’ and produced it at the Olympic. He was responsible for an adaptation of Walter Scott’s Marmion, played at an outlying theatre. For a short period he edited the ‘Monthly Mirror,’ to which, and to the ‘Cabinet,’ he contributed fugitive pieces.

A portrait of Oxberry by Dewilde, in the Garrick Club, shows him as Petro in Arnold’s ‘Devil’s Bridge.’ An engraving of him as Leo Luminati in ‘Oh! this Love’ is in the ‘Theatrical Inquisitor’ (vol. i.); and a second, presenting him in private dress, is in Oxberry’s ‘Dramatic Biography,’ a work projected by Oxberry, and edited after his death by his widow; it was published in parts, beginning 1 Jan. 1825. After the completion of the first volume in April 1825 the issue was continued in volumes, and was completed in five vols. in 1826.

In 1806 Oxberry married, at Southend, a young actress playing minor parts in the Trotter company, Catherine Elizabeth Hewitt.

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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 Kenney
1780 – 25 July 1849


James Kenney

Kenney was an English dramatist, the son of James Kenney, one of the founders of Boodles’ Club in London.

His first play, a farce called Raising the Wind (1803), was a success owing to the character of “Jeremy Diddler”.

Kenney produced more than forty dramas and operas between 1803 and 1845, and many of his pieces, in which Sarah Siddons, Madame Vestris, Maria Foote, Monk Lewis, John Liston and other players appeared .

His most popular play was Sweethearts and Wives, produced at the Haymarket Theatre in 1823; and among the most successful of his other works were: False Alarms (1807), a comic opera with music by Braham; Love, Law and Physic (1812); Spring and Autumn (1827); The Illustrious Stranger, or Married and Buried (1827); Masaniello (1829); The Sicilian Vespers, a tragedy (1840).

Kenney, who numbered Charles Lamb and Samuel Rogers among his friends, died in London in 1849. He married the widow of the dramatist Thomas Holcroft, by whom he had two sons and two daughters.

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Another Regency Personality, Angelyn comes through again, and well worth checking out.

Matthew Gregory Lewis

July 9th 1775 to May 14 1818

(I think there is a trend that all Regency Poets must succumb at an early age and most politicians go on into their dotage)


Angelyn's Blog

Many readers of Regency-era literature recognize the name “Monk” Lewis.

But who the devil was the fellow?

Matthew Gregory Lewis (1775 – 1818) was the son of a wealthy Jamaican planter. His mother ran off with the music teacher when her son was six. He later supported her financially and socially, and then she became lady-in-waiting to the Princess of Wales.

His success was almost entirely dependent on his classic tale of The Monk. This was the Gothic poem of a holy man’s descent into depraved evil.

She sealed his lips with a wanton kiss;

‘Though I forgive your breaking your vows to heaven,

I expect you to keep your vows to me.’

It was an astonishing success, all the more so because the author was not of age. The first edition was followed by a second and third. The most objectionable passages were edited out for having caused much grief to…

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