One evening in 1851 the twelve-year-old John Henry Brodribb was taken by his father to see Phelps play Hamlet at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, and this was the night the young boy was converted to the theatre.
He was born in Somerset and as a child brought up by an aunt in Cornwall. At fourteen he had been found a job in the offices of Thacker, Spink, and Co. East India Merchants of Newgate Street in London, where he worked daily from 9.30am to7 pm. He attended the Albion Chapel at London Wall with his mother, who was extremely distressed at his decision to become an actor, as for her this was glimpsing the gates of hell: she begged her friends to dissuade him from such a life.
Through his regular visits to Sadler’s Wells he became friendly with the actor William Hoskins, a member of Phelps’s company, and received private acting lessons from him at 8am every morning. The moment came when Hoskins arranged for young John Henry to meet the great Phelps. Samuel Phelps (1804-1878) was the leading actor of the time and staged thirty-four of Shakespeare’s plays during his management at Sadler’s Wells in the mid-nineteenth century. On learning that John Henry wanted to enter the acting profession Phelps advised ‘Sir, do not go on the stage; it is an ill-requited profession’. When the young man failed to accept his advice Phelps’s response was ‘In that case, Sir, you had better come here and I’ll give you two pounds a week to start with’. No doubt Phelps was surprised when John Henry turned down his offer.
An uncle had given him £100 and some of this unexpected gift was converted during visits to theatrical costumiers in Covent Garden into the tools of the actors’ trade—wigs, buckles, lace, feathers, stage jewellery and three swords, including a court sword with a jewelled hilt. The Soho Theatre was planning an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet and John Henry paid three guineas to secure the role of Romeo. He did not believe that John Henry Brodribb had the right ring for an actor’s name. After some consideration the eighteen-year-old preferred his second name, Henry, to which he added Irving, taken from Washington Irving whose Sketch Book had been a favourite book during his childhood. On the Soho Theatre playbill of 11 August, 1856, the name printed above the title of Romeo and Juliet was Henry Irving.
Notice was given to his employer in Newgate Street who warned him of the temptations ahead and with tears in his eyes liberated him with a blessing. His actor friend Hoskins had previously given him a letter of recommendation to Mr. Davis of the new Royal Lyceum in Sunderland: on the receipt of the letter he was engaged by Davis and so his career began. His mother never found it in her heart to forgive him.
What was this profession that Henry Irving wished to enter in 1856? Not only was it ill-requited but historically it was not considered to be a profession. Dutton Cook writing in 1883 relates the story of the actor William O’Brien, a comedian at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and a member of Garrick’s company. O’Brien in 1764 had a clandestine union with Lady Susannah Sarah Louisa Fox Strangeways, the eldest daughter of Lord Ilchester, and this much disturbed polite society. Horace Walpole wrote to a friend, ‘A melancholy affair has happened to Lord Ilchester: his eldest daughter, Lady Susan, a very pleasing girl, although not handsome, married herself two days ago at Covent Garden Church to O’Brien, a handsome young actor’ … ’Tis a cruel blow’. The lady had come of age on the Friday and married on the Saturday! The penalty—O’Brien was not allowed to make a living by acting and a post was found for him in America. It was said that Mr. O’Brien had chiefly sinned because he was an actor—‘even a footman would have been preferable’.
The leading actors of the late eighteenth century and eighteenth century had plenty of aristocratic ‘friends’ and although traditionally actresses had married into the ranks of society, actors had not. Actors had no social status and itinerant actors and strollers had nothing and were at the mercy of a society represented by a magistrate who might or might not grant a licence to perform in his town: for the actor this could be a matter of life and death.
The focus of this talk will be on four of the nineteenth century’s great English actors all of whom were trans-Atlantic actors: George Frederick Cooke, Edmund Kean, William Charles Macready and Henry Irving. Atlantic actors because they were star actors invited to perform in Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York and, as the century progressed, throughout the United States.
Who was George Frederick Cooke (1756-1812)? He has become somewhat lost in the mists of time. He was the first star actor to perform in America. He spent some twenty-seven years of his life working in the provinces as an itinerant and provincial actor. When a young man he saw Garrick act nine times; he also saw the great Charles Macklin and these actors provided the young Cooke with his first awareness of the art of acting. Garrick has been credited with introducing a style of acting that was directly influenced by nature. He explored techniques that suggested ‘emotional transitions’ experienced by a character. A character inhabiting a play’s narrative, therefore, was seen by an audience to live through immediate and sudden changes of emotion, or passion, dictated by the altering circumstances of the action.
The actor’s whole being was incorporated to express observable changes in a ‘character’s face, body and voice’: it is said that Garrick supported his technique with intense concentration that made his acting appear ‘real’.
Cooke learned this technique and Garrick’s widow years later said ‘I approved Mr. Cooke much; his King Richard was good. And sometimes very fine, and put me in mind of Mr. Garrick’. She went on to say ‘Mr. Kean—it is like Mr. Garrick himself’. Coleridge was to say of Kean that to see him act was ‘like reading Shakespeare by flashes of lightning’. It was said of Cooke that to see him perform ‘was like reading Shakespeare through a magnifying glass’ (O. Smith). Cooke came to London ‘stardom’ at the age of forty-four in Richard 111 at the Theatre Royal Covent Garden in 1800. Richard was an immediate success and a review in the Sun informed its readers that
‘Mr. Cooke possesses the rare merit of evidently founding his acting upon the observations of real life, and a full consideration of the character he is to represent. He therefore comes forward with an original air, and all the force of truth and nature. Cooke possesses a good-toned voice, and one of extensive compass.’
He held his place at Covent Garden for the next ten years, although his ongoing problem with alcohol was widely known and regretted.
In Liverpool in October 1810, under somewhat mysterious circumstances, and while in the company of the English actor, Thomas Abthorpe Cooper, who was co-manager of the Park Theatre in New York, Cooke was abducted and brought on board the Columbia where he found himself at the beginning of the forty-three day voyage to New York during which time he dried out. The press congratulated Cooper on bringing Cooke to America and said it ‘marked the most brilliant era in the stage history of the United States’. He was announced in Richard 111 and the largest audience the Park Theatre had every seen crowded into the house, some two thousand, two hundred people: similar scenes were repeated in Philadelphia and Boston. What did Cooke’s audience make of him? We know it is often hard to describe a performance seen on the previous evening. To capture the essence of a performance given two hundred years ago is more-or-less impossible, but words can sometimes suggest the essence of what was seen. The actor John Howard Payne (now remembered for the song Home Sweet Home abstracted from his opera Clari; or the Maid of Milan) who both saw and acted with Cooke, playing Edgar to his Lear,
‘He made a different impression on me from any other actor I have ever seen; there was something so exclusively unique and original in his dramatic genius … it seemed that every action and look emanated entirely from himself; one who appeared never to have had a model and who depended entirely upon himself for everything he did in the character he represented. Cooke reminds me of no one but himself, and I have never been able to recognise the real Richard in any other actor but Cooke. Kean reminds me of Cooke, and (Junius Brutus) Booth of Kean … Cooke was just as great in dialect parts as he was in English heroics.’
Cooke acted in America for twenty-two months and gave one hundred and sixty performances. Eventually his life style caught up with him and on a number of occasions he was unable to perform. He died in New York and his funeral procession was led by the Governor of New York. Cooke’s body was placed in the Strangers’ Vault at St. Paul’s Church on Broadway and there it remained until 1821. His third wife, two earlier wives had left him because of ‘his irregular habits’, was with him when he died. John Howard Payne’s response to his death was.‘I think Cooke the genius of the English stage … I deem it a glory for my country to have his remains resting in its soil’.
When Edmund Kean (1787-1833) visited New York in 1820 he decided to move Cooke from the Strangers’ Vault to a new grave with a memorial in the churchyard. Permission was granted by the bishop on condition that no memorial tablet was placed in the church. The memorial was completed in 1821; when Kean went to say goodbye to Cooke the bells on Broadway were ringing and Dr Francis who was with him said that ‘tears fell from his eyes in abundance, and at the grave he sang sweeter than ever two of his favourite songs – Those evening Bells and Come Over the Sea’.
It was Irving’s view that Kean, who was born nine years after Garrick’s death, was the greatest genius that our stage has ever seen. At six he appeared at Drury Lane as an attendant spirit to the Sisters three in Macbeth. John Phillip Kemble played the Thane and Sarah Siddons, his wife; Charles Kemble was making his debut as Malcolm. Master Carey lasted for one performance only. On stage he ‘tripped’ on a forward step and fell against the little demon next to him until the ‘whole wicked company’ of little demons had fallen over: the audience laughed and the scene was spoiled. Master Carey’s defence when summoned to Kemble’s dressing room that ‘this was the first time he had performed in tragedy’failed and he was out!
He became a strolling player and like Cooke before him developed ‘irregular habits’. In Belfast in 1807 he worked with Mrs Siddons in a play he had not fully learnt. Mrs Siddons called him ‘a horrid little man’ and was aghast to hear that he was to appear with her in the next play. She was reassured by the management that he knew this role and later she encouraged him and told him that ‘he had played very, very well’. He later claimed that she also added that ‘there was too little of him to make a great actor’!
His mother, Ann Carey, was often absent in his early years and he was largely cared for by Miss Tidswell, an actress at Drury Lane, who taught him the principles of acting. He learned music from Charles Incledon, the singer, dancing from D’Egville, and fencing from Angelo. He married Mary Chambers, an actress, and they had two sons—Howard and Charles. Howard died at Dorchester, as the family walked to London from a theatre in Swansea suffering with inadequate clothing, limited shelter, and a lack of food. During this awful period Kean had been seen and recommended to the management of Drury Lane. On 26 January 1814 he appeared as Shylock in The Merchant of Venice and his success was immediate. Richard 111, Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth and King Lear quickly followed and his success was such that the rival management at Covent Garden sought a challenger for him. Reports of a young actor appearing as Richard 111 in Worthing and Brighton were received: his name was Junius Brutus Booth and he was similar to Kean in size and looks—they could be taken for twin brothers. The Covent Garden management decided he would make the perfect counter-attraction to Kean at Drury Lane. Booth was just short of twenty-one years of age and was nine years younger than Kean. He was announced as Richard 111 in February 1817; at once the audience were struck by his marked resemblance to Kean and his vocal similarity. The performance was judged to be an extraordinary imitation and the curtain fell to cheers. However, Booth was unable to reach terms with the Covent Garden management. The Drury Lane management approached him and Booth signed an agreement, with an improved salary, for three years. It was announced that he would play Iago to Kean’s Othello.
On their appearance both actors were warmly applauded. Booth at first appeared to be nervous and Kean self-possessed; as the tragedy went on Kean’s power increased while Booth’s declined. Kean had reserved his strength for the third act from which point he completely dominated the stage. At the close Kean led Booth forward to receive his applause and John Howard Payne who was present recorded that he seemed to enjoy Booth’s success as much as the audience did. When Kean stepped forward to acknowledge the audience Payne continues ‘I thought the applause would never stop’. A second performance was announced for two days later, but Booth had entered into a new agreement with the Covent Garden management and was announced to play Richard 111. When he appeared on stage there was a mixture of support and open resentment because of his broken agreement with Drury Lane. The audience was in an uproar and such was the noise that the performance took place in dumb show. A second performance was advertised four days later but when Booth entered on to the stage he was pelted with oranges and further abused by the audience. Gradually interest in Booth waned and his audiences declined. Not only had he been acted off the stage by Kean, he had alienated his audience. Later he crossed the Atlantic and began anew in America and became a highly respected actor. His sons became actors and managers and one of them, Edwin Booth, became America’s great classical actor. Another son, John Wilkes Booth, assassinated President Lincoln.
The first of Kean’s visits to America was from 1820/21 and this is what the National Gazette reported:
‘We had been assured that certain imitations of Kean were exact likenesses and that certain actors were good copies; that his excellence consisted in sudden starts, frequent and unexpected pauses, in short a complete knowledge of… stage tricks which we hold in contempt… he had not finished his first soliloquy before our prejudices gave way and we saw the most complete actor that ever appeared on our boards.’
Dr Francis wrote of Kean that ‘he won my feelings and admiration from the first moment… Association and observation convinced me, that he added to a mind of various culture, the resources of original intellect’. Francis considered the third act of Othello his greatest performance. Wood, the manger at Philadelphia, recorded that Kean’s presence in the green room was ever a source of enjoyment. Wood also noted that ‘unlike Cooke who could bear two or three bottles of port wine, Kean would be upset by as many glasses’.
Following a successful tour of the southern states Kean decided to perform again in Boston. He was advised that the wealthy members of his audience would not be in town and was advised to wait for the autumn season. Kean believed he was a sufficient draw and so the performances went ahead. On the third night he looked through the curtain and saw there were only twenty or so people in the house. He told the managers he was not prepared to act to bare walls and left the theatre. Soon afterwards the house filled and a message was sent to him asking him to return to the theatre, but he refused. The Bostonians considered he had insulted them and where previously he had been lauded he was now abused. Kean attempted to argue his case in the press and offered remorse, but to no effect and when his tour ended. Elliston engaged him for Drury Lane.
It was seen that Kean was not in his usual high spirits and appeared depressed. A trial was pending between himself and Alderman Cox in the Court of the King’s Bench: Kean had become embroiled in a sexual scandal. Eight years previously while playing Othello at Taunton Kean had been attracted by a showily dressed woman in a stage box who showed great interest in his performance and ‘fainted’ in the fourth act! She was carried in an ‘unconscious’ state to Kean’s dressing room. A friendship ensued between the good Alderman and the attractive wife. Kean was welcomed at her London home in Wellington Street, just down from Drury Lane, and a love affair began: Kean was besotted and Mrs Kean was outraged. One day at home Alderman Cox found an unlocked cabinet in which he ‘discovered’ Kean’s love letters to Mrs Cox. The Alderman did not sue for divorce but demanded two thousand pounds in compensation. Kean’s letters were read aloud in court (Kean never offered Mrs Cox’s letters to the court in his defence) and the salacious content was much enjoyed and printed in the newspapers. The jury consulted for ten minutes and awarded the Alderman eight hundred pounds. Kean realised that he had been duped; he found himself estranged from his family and the laughing stock of London.
He attempted to play Richard 111 a week after the trial. When the curtain rose the actors’ voices could not be heard and when he entered the stage there were ‘cheers, yells, hootings and deafening tumult’. The next performance fared no better. The Times wrote that ‘it doubted if any English woman of character could, after the filthy exposure of Mr. Kean, ever be brought to visit a theatre in which he played …’ Shattered by the event he decided to make his home in America. He resolved to give farewell performances in the chief provincial towns of Great Britain. When he was announced in Edinburgh ‘there were groans and hisses and other expressions of disgust and indignation’. In Greenock the audience was so hostile he left before the end of the performance. Manchester welcomed him enthusiastically, as did Dublin —the latter city remembered that he had given his receipts for a London benefit performance to relieve famine-stricken Irish people.
Before he left for America in 1825 a friend wrote, ‘I never saw a man so changed, William Charles Macready he had all the air of desperation about him. He looked bloated with rage and brandy; his nose was red, his cheeks blotched, his eyes bloodshot: I really pitied him’. At Liverpool he met Junius Brutus Booth on a visit to England and they made their peace. Booth recorded that Kean ‘…has been quite ill and looks wretched’.
In America things were no better. At the Park Theatre in New York he stood for ten minutes on stage waiting for the noise to stop: it did not. ‘References were shouted about Alderman and Mrs Cox, not quite in the spirit of decency’. His tour continued and in some cities he was welcomed, while in others he was abused by the mob and on one occasion ‘rotten eggs, oranges, buttons and other missiles were thrown at him, in the midst of which he stood calm and sorrowful… ’ He addressed this audience and was allowed to speak and said ‘Friends of the drama, this is your quarrel, not mine’. His response ‘affected the audience’ and he was allowed him to play the last scenes of the play.
On his return to England he was considerably weakened physically and his memory was failing. He wrote to the editor of The Star, a friend ‘Fight for me, I have no resources in myself; mind is gone, and body hopeless …Memory, the first of the goddesses, has forsaken me … the soul leaps, the body falls’. He performed at Drury Lane a few more times. He became lessee of the Theatre Royal at Richmond in Surrey. At the end Miss Tidswell, who had so often looked after him in his childhood, cared for him at Richmond. His final performance came on 25 March, 1833, at Covent Garden when a large audience came to see him play Othello to his son Charles’s Iago. He collapsed in his son’s arms in the third act after the lines ‘Farewell: Othello’s occupation’s gone ….’ He died on 15 May, 1833, with his wife Mary at his bedside: he was forty-six. He lies in an unmarked grave by the ‘western portal’ in the Richmond churchyard.
Macready was a pall bearer at the funeral, together with other leading actors of the day. When the funeral was over he left the church, accompanied by the actor John Pritt Harley, and returned by carriage to London as its leading actor.
William Charles Macready (1793- 1873) was the son of an actor and provincial manager and an actress, and was six years younger than Kean. At ten Macready was enrolled at Rugby School as a first step to joining the Bar. At the close of his first year at school on his return home he learned that his thirty-eight year old mother had died in Sheffield; his diary records visits to her grave throughout his life. Macready Senior’s management ventures were unsuccessful and William Charles volunteered to leave Rugby and renounce the Bar to ease his father’s financial difficulties. He became an actor: he was never an itinerant actor and always played leading roles. In 1809 at sixteen he learned fencing with Angelo in London; he saw Cooke, Young, Charles Kemble and Liston. His father’s idols were Macklin and Henderson but he forbade his son to see John Philip Kemble lest he imitated his style.
On one occasion Macready arrived home to see his father surrender himself to the Sheriff for debt and committal in Lancaster Castle. Macready Junior burst into tears and the next day assumed responsibility for his father’s company in Chester. On Boxing Day of that year the nineteen-year-old had to pawn his watch to escape bankruptcy in Chester and move the company to Newcastle.
Both Macready and his father had fiery tempers and four years later the time came for Macready Junior to make his own way. At twenty-three he was in London playing Orestes in The Distrest Mother at Covent Garden. He saw Kean playing Richard 111 and met him at supper, recording ‘his unassuming manner …partaking in some degree shyness’…the ‘touching grace’ of his singing, and ‘the extraordinary humour of his mimicry’.
A year later when the season opened badly the management required Macready to play one of Kean’s great parts. Richard 111 was chosen: he was aware that comparisons would be made not only with Kean, but also Cooke. A crowded house witness ed his success and the critics declared him a worthy counterpart to Kean. Leigh Hunt wrote that Macready presented ‘the livelier and more animal part’ of Richard, Kean ‘the more sombre and perhaps deepest part’. It was generally acknowledged that Macready had little going for him physically, but in one of his first great successes, the character Virginius, in the play of that name, it was written of his voice that it was,
‘Austere, tender, familiar, elevated, mingling at once terror and pathos, he ran over the scale of dramatic expression with the highest degree of power … his love of sudden transition was controlled … and his rich manly voice, which too frequently tempted him to rant, was subdued and mellowed down to a tone of exquisite touchingness’.
Macready enjoyed a happy married life and a large family. He made his first trip to America in 1826 sailing with his wife and sister, where he was acknowledged as a peer of Cooke and Kean. Macready’s conduct both privately and to his audience was very different to Kean’s. In 1837 he took charge of Covent Garden for a period of two years with a hand-selected company that included Phelps, James Anderson, Helen Faucit, Miss Stoddard (later Mrs Warner), Harley, Power and Priscilla Horton. Charles Kean was the only actor to decline his offer.
In 1841 he began a second period of management, again for two years, this time at Drury Lane. William Archer records that the chief members of the Covent Garden company had gathered eagerly around him; he also added that in view of Macready’s well-known temper, that as some of the actors had turned down better-paid engagements elsewhere, this was sufficient proof that his bark was worse than his bite.
His second American trip took place in 1843-4. Phelps decided against playing ‘seconds’ and John Ryder went in his place. On this visit Macready acted with Charlotte Cushman and she later attributed Macready’s influence and encouragement as the true beginning of her artistic life: she later acted with him in London.
The Farewell Tour to America took place four years’ later and finished badly. The reason was a feud between Macready and Edwin Forrest, the first great American born actor. Forrest believed that Macready and his friends planned to damage his career in London by planting ‘disruptive roughs’ in his audiences and influencing newspaper editors. John Forster, a friend of Macready’s, did in fact write an uncomplimentary piece about Forrest and ‘his blusterous style of acting’, but not at his friend’s request. Forrest had taken his revenge by standing in a box at the Edinburgh theatre and hissing Macready during a performance of Hamlet.
There were difficulties during the tour caused by Forrest’s friends and matters came to a head in New York where Macready was playing Macbeth at the Astor Place Opera House: Forrest decided to play the same role at the Broadway Theatre.
At Macready’s first performance a rotten egg was thrown on the stage followed by apples, potatoes, pieces of wood and chairs thrown from the gallery. He was persuaded to perform again a few days later and this time there was a mob outside the theatre and posses of police stationed in the auditorium. The performance was disrupted, rowdies were ejected and as the play proceeded rioters threw loose paving stones through the theatre windows. Macready heard ‘a rattling detonation crash through the hubbub’—what he heard was a musket volley. The authorities had called in two detachments of infantry, and also cavalry made up of forty men. On their arrival the mob attacked them and most of the riders were hurt as the horses panicked.
Outside the theatre one hundred and forty men were facing an angry mob of 20,000 men. The troops were ordered to fire low; many were injured and more than twenty shot dead. William Archer was of the view that aside from Forrest’s alleged persecution the riot should be regarded as an acute outbreak of long standing international irritation. This was Macready’s last visit to America.
Macready had been successful and had anticipated Henry Irving by ‘demonstrating scrupulous care and thought in every detail of performance’. Much of his ‘unpopularity amongst actors and managers was caused by his insistence on artistic punctiliousness which to a lax generation seemed pedantic. When young he had endured ridicule and odium because he acted at rehearsal’. He retired in 1851 at the age of fifty-eight. His wife died soon afterwards and eight of his ten children predeceased him. At sixty he married a young woman of twenty-three and at sixty nine he became a father again: the old fire and energy had not deserted him. His son became a general in the British Army. Macready died at eighty and lies with his family in the Catacombs at Kensal Green Cemetery.
Henry Irving saw none of these predecessors act, although as a young man he worked with Charles Kean and Charlotte Cushman. He continued the management tradition. He also had a muse – Ellen Terry. Cooke, Kean and Macready had not worked continuously with any one actress, although they all worked with Mary Ann Duff, an English actress, who went to America at sixteen with her husband, John Duff. In performance Kean had to remind her that the audience had come to see him! Junius Brutus Booth declared that she was the finest living actress. She had a large family and was widowed young and retired after Fanny Kemble arrived to great success in New York.
Irving’s great future was signalled in 1871 when he appeared at the Lyceum in London as Mathias in The Bells. His continuing success and popularity were consolidated when he took over management of the theatre in 1878. In 1881 Edwin Booth, the son of Junius Brutus Booth, acted with him at the Lyceum and amongst other roles alternated Othello and Iago with Irving. Irving’s eight North American tours were all artistically successful and, unlike his predecessors who worked with stock companies, he toured a full company.
He met four US presidents—Arthur, Cleveland, McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt. Queen Victoria, on making him the first actor to be knighted, was heard to say that she ‘was very, very pleased’. At her funeral he was given a seat in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor. He was a guest at the King Edward VII’s Coronation, and when he dined with the King he was seated on the monarch’s right. He received doctorates from the country’s leading universities, as well as those in the United States.
The twenty-seven years at the Lyceum, together with the years of touring in this country and the United States eventually impacted on his health, and like Cooke and Kean before him he died a working actor. The life journey of a sixteen-year-old boy enthralled by the theatre ended in Bradford and concluded with a funeral and burial at Westminster Abbey on 20 October, 1905. Acting was not an unrequited profession for Sir Henry Irving. He summed it up towards the end when he said to Ellen Terry, as he mocked his critics: ‘For an actor who can’t walk, can’t talk, has no face to talk of—I’ve done pretty well.’
Books consulted include:
Anon. By an Old Actor, Memoirs of Mr. Booth Containing a True Statement of All the Circumstances Attending his Engagements at the Rival Theatres, With a Few Remarks upon his Conduct n.d.
Archer, Stephen M Junius Brutus Booth, Theatrical Prometheus (S Illinois UP 1992)
Archer, William William Charles Macready, Eminent Actor (Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co 1890)
Cook, Dutton Hours With the Players (Chatto & Windus 1883)
Disher, Maurice Willson Mad Genius, A Biography of Edmund Kean (Hutchinson 1950)
Downer, Alan S The Eminent Tragedian (Harvard University Press 1966)
Dunlap, William Memoirs of the Life of George Frederick Cooke 2 vols (D Longworth 1813)
“ A View of the English Stage (Robert Stoddart 1818)
“ A History of the American Theatre (J & J Harper 1832)
Galt, John The Lives of the Players (Hamilton, Adams & Co 1886)
Hare, Arnold George Frederick Cooke, The Actor and the Man (STR 1980)
Hiatt, Charles Henry Irving, A Record and Review (George Bell & Sons 1899)
Ireland, Joseph N ‘Mrs Duff’ American Actor Series (James R Osgood and Company) 1882
Irving, Henry English Actors, Their Characteristics and Their Methods (Oxford 1886)
Irving, Laurence Henry Irving, The Actor and his World (Faber and Faber 1951)
Molloy, J. Fitzgerald The Life and Adventures of Edmund Kean 2 vols (Ward and Downey 1888)
Odell, George C D Annals of the New York Stage vols. 2, 3, and 4 (1927 and 1928)
Phelps and John Forbes-Robertson, W M The Life and Life-Work of Samuel Phelps (Sampson Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington 1886)
Playfair, Giles Kean: The Life and Paradox of the Great Actor (Reinhardt & Evans 1950)
Pollock (Ed), Sir George Macready’s Reminiscences (Diaries and Letters) (Macmillan and Co 1875)
Proctor, B W (Barry Cornwall) The Life of Edmund Kean 2 vols (1835 re-issued Benjamin Blom 1969)
Richards, Jeffrey Sir Henry Irving, A Victorian Actor and His World (Hambledon and London 2005)
Smith, Geddeth Thomas Abthorpe Cooper, America’s Premier Tragedian (Associated University Presses 1996)
Stebbins, Emma Charlotte Cushman, Her Letters and Memories of her Life (Houghton, Osgood and Company 1878)
Stoker, Bram Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving 2 vols (William Heinemann 1906)
Toynbee, William The Diaries of William Charles Macready (Chapman and Hall 1912)
Trewin, J C Mr. Macready, 19th Century Tragedian (George G. Harrap & Co 1955)
Whyte, Frederick Actors of the Century (George Bell & Sons 1898)
Wilmeth, Don B George Frederick Cooke, Machiavel of the Stage (Greenwood Press 1980)