Henry Irving

Also found in: Wikipedia.
Sir Henry Irving
John Brodribb (middle name Henry added at his christening)
BirthplaceKeinton Mandeville, Somerset, England

Irving, Henry


(pseudonym of John Henry Brodribb). Born Feb. 6, 1838, in Keinton; died Oct. 13, 1905, in London. British actor, director, and man of the theater.

Irving was the son of a tradesman. He began his acting career in 1856 in the provinces and then performed at theaters in Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, and other cities, playing a variety of roles that ranged from high tragedy to pantomime and burlesque. His telling use of facial expression and gesture, the accuracy of his external portrayal, and his theatrical temperament and charm lent Irving’s acting a character all its own. From 1866 he lived in London and appeared in melodramas. In 1867 he played Petruchio in Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew, with Ellen Terry playing the part of Katherina. The collaboration of these two actors lasted until 1898 and marked an epoch in British theater of the late 19th century. The role of Hamlet, which he played more than 200 times, propelled him into the ranks of Britain’s finest actors. Irving played other Shakespearean roles, including Macbeth, Othello, and Richard III.

From 1878 to 1898, Irving and Terry jointly managed the Lyceum Theatre. Irving revived the plays of Shakespeare on the British stage. His productions were outstanding for their striking scenic effect and historical authenticity. However, his treatment of Shakespeare’s tragedies was in the vein of sentimentalism, and he strove to highlight a single character trait in the heroes. Irving also made appearances as elocutionist and lecturer and wrote articles on the craft of the actor, championing the actor’s rights and social status. He edited the stage texts of Shakespearean plays, which were then published. He toured frequently in the United States, influencing the development of the American theater. Irving was the first British actor to be knighted (1895).


Terry, E. Istoriia moei zhizni. Leningrad-Moscow, 1963. (Translated from English.)
Stoker, B. The Personal Reminiscences of H. Irving, vols. 1–2. London, 1906.
Irving, L. H. Irving: The Actor and His World. London [1951].


References in periodicals archive ?
A Sir Richard Irving B Sir Henry Irving C Sir Roger Irving D Sir Thomas Irving 10.
1838: Sir Henry Irving, English actor, was born in Somerset.
1838: English actor Sir Henry Irving was born in Somerset.
However, it did bring him to the attention of Sir Henry Irving, who is believed to have been an inspiration for the appearance of Count Dracula.
1905 Legendary English actor Sir Henry Irving died in Bradford, during his 1924 Ramsay MacDonald made the first election broadcast on the BBC on behalf of the Labour Party.
The management of Lyceum Theatre London was took over by a renowned actor his time, Henry Irving in the year 1878.
Actors and actresses including Henry Irving, with Ellen Terry, Wilson Barrett with Maud Jeffries, Mr and Mrs Kendal, Genevieve Ward; that fine and clever actor, Edward Compton and his wife, Virginia Bateman, in Shakespeare, Sheridan and plays of that calibre, Edward Terry in The Magistrate, and many other stars and celebrities.
Stoker's real-life inspiration for Dracula's mannerisms came from friend, actor and theatre manager Sir Henry Irving, who pronounced the show as 'dreadful' and never agreed to play the titular role.
During his lifetime, he was better known as personal assistant of actor Henry Irving and business manager of the Lyceum Theatre in London, which Irving owned.
Volume I is devoted to Stoker's drama reviews in Dublin from 1871 to 1877, whereas volume II is more diverse, encompassing extracts (over a hundred pages) from Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving (1906), nine Theatrical Essays (five dating from after Irving's death), and one incursion into fiction: Snowbound: The Record of a Theatrical Touring Party (1908).
As Henry Irving claimed in his introduction to the first volume of his complete works of Shakespeare published in 1888, mounting Shakespeare's plays on stage provided an opportunity for 'students of the past to learn the form and colour of the costumes and the decorations of distant ages'.
Although best known today for his landmark 1897 novel, Stoker was personal assistant to Sir Henry Irving - one of the most famous actors of his generation - and business manager of London's Lyceum Theatre, which Irving owned.