Edwin Booth

A Biography and Performance History


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About the Book

The great nineteenth-century stage actor Edwin Booth began his long career in 1849 as a young teenager, following in his father’s footsteps. This biography traces his life and career as a tragic actor, including his childhood; his early acting tours of California, Australia and Hawaii; his rise to fame as a touring star; his two marriages; his relationship with his brother John Wilkes Booth; his disastrous management of Booth’s Theatre in New York City; and his death in 1891. The book includes an extensive performance history detailing every known Edwin Booth performance during his more than 30 years on the stage, with reviews and other supplementary materials.

About the Author(s)

The late Arthur W. Bloom was a retired professor of theatre and administrator at several public and private American universities. He is the author of biographies of Joseph Jefferson, Edwin Booth, and Edwin Forrest.

Bibliographic Details

Arthur W. Bloom
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 360
Bibliographic Info: 18 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2020 [2013]
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8126-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0146-5
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments   vi
Introduction   1

Part I: Biography
One. 1833–1849: “Born to the stage”   5
Two. 1849–1852: “A long legged stripling …awkward as a young duck”   11
Three. 1852–1856: “Full of promise … and Bowery rant”   17
Four. Professional and Family Life, 1856–1860   29
Five. 1857–1860: Booth, Mary Devlin and Adam Badeau   36
Six. America and England, 1860–1862: “At a larger circumference”   50
Seven. 1862–1863: “Tell Molly I’m coming”   61
Eight. 1863–1865: “If it goes a year, keep it up!”   68
Nine. Edwin and John Wilkes Booth: “Life’s too short to spend in grieving”   74
Ten. 1865–1867: “Something to keep us above the surf”   89
Eleven. Mary McVicker: “The best actress we’ve had for a century”   93
Twelve. Booth’s Theatre, 1867–1869: “A temple to art”   98
Thirteen. Booth’s Theatre, 1869–1871: “The currency of good intentions is not bankable money”   103
Fourteen. Booth’s Theatre, 1871–1883: “So much for high-old-art”   106
Fifteen. Family Life, 1870–1880: “My house has been a hospital”   112
Sixteen. England, 1880–1881: “The verdict of foreigners”   119
Seventeen. 1881–1882: The Death of Mary McVicker   124
Eighteen. Europe, 1882–1883: “The most important engagement of my life”   128
Nineteen. 1883–1886: Touring and Family Life   135
Twenty. The 1886-1887 Season: “It is time to harvest all I can”   142
Twenty-One. 1887–1888: Booth and Barrett   149
Twenty-Two. “The Booth and Barrett Social Company”   156
Twenty-Three. 1888–1889: The Second Booth and Barrett Tour   161
Twenty-Four. 1889–1890: Touring with Modjeska   166
Twenty-Five. 1890–1893: Illness, Last Tour and Death   170

Part II: Performance History   177

Notes   297
Bibliography   344
Index   347

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Work of impressive biographical scholarship and a strongly recommended addition”—Midwest Book Review
  • “This biography of 19th-century American stage actor Edwin Booth goes beyond Edwin’s relationship with his infamous brother John Wilkes Booth to describe the witty yet melancholy Edwin’s career on stage and his relationships…contains a wealth of historical photos”—Reference & Research Book News