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 ?
He was the first person to suggest Gladstone should lead the Liberals and campaign to get him there, he became a hero to Merseyside seamen for his support for the Plimsoll line, he championed Irish Home Rule and as a drama critic, was even credited for discovering Henry Irving.
Stoker was the author of the novel Dracula, but also served as manager for the actor Henry Irving, a man he idolised.
Nash worked in musical comedy and pantomime throughout his career, and in the legitimate theatre for Sir Henry Irving and Herbert Beerbohm Tree.
Sir Henry Irving must be turning in his grave as he looks down from his ethereal stage and sees what has happened to theatre since last he charmed his audiences beyond the footlights.
Two essays focus on mediation and representation: Jim Davis discusses an entertaining series of caricatures and cartoons that take the theatre world as their theme, and Shearer West examines the complex ways in which Ellen Terry and Henry Irving handled the still relatively new publicity tool of the photographic portrait.
THE life of Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving is celebrated in an exhibition of costumes, paintings and other theatrical memorabilia at the Swan Theatre in Stratford.
It helps if you know the background of Dracula and its creator, Bram Stoker, a man of the theatre who was not only the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving but who ran the Lyceum Theatre.
I no longer see that fine apple, Beauty of Bath, while the St Alban's pippins, which the great actor Henry Irving ate in his dressing room believing they refreshed the throat after a performance, seems to have disappeared.
Richard Foulkes's Henry Irving provides a sound grounding in Victorian theatre practice, allowing us to begin to explore some of the complex questions raised by the evidence left behind after the performative moment.
A NEW exhibition celebrating the life and work of Victorian actor- manager Sir Henry Irving has opened in Stratford.
It cost a hefty pounds 4,500 at the time and was opened by no less a personage that the great actor, Henry Irving, brought to Birmingham on a special train, greeted by flag-waving crowds.
Sit with him in his kingdom where rare costumes, paintings, manuscripts and theatrical memorabilia abound and you risk being lost in a world of theatre dreams where the great names from the past, Laurence Olivier, Edith Evans, Henry Irving, Ellen Terry, Sarah Siddons, Garrick and Kean, look down at you from their portraits, their painted eyes either distant, passionate or indifferent.