Herbert Beerbohm Tree

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Related to Herbert Beerbohm Tree: Max Beerbohm, Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree

Tree, Herbert Beerbohm


Born Dec. 17, 1853, in London; died there July 2, 1917. English actor, manager, and producer.

Tree’s professional stage career began in 1876. He managed the Haymarket Theater from 1887 to 1896 and Her Majesty’s (later His Majesty’s) Theater from 1897 to 1915. Between 1888 and 1914 he staged 18 Shakespearean plays. As a producer, Tree continued the traditions of C. Kean and H. Irving. He staged visually spectacular productions, often including scenes of the fan :tastic or supernatural, musical numbers, and arias. He staged crowd scenes with particular care. Tree could be quite free in dealing with a written text, rearranging or omitting entire scenes.

Tree’s Shakespearean roles included Malvolio in Twelfth Night, Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor, Macbeth, Richard II, and Hamlet. He also played Nekhliudov in a dramatic version of Tolstoy’s Resurrection and Henry Higgins in Shaw’s Pygmalion. Tree founded a school of dramatic art in 1904 in London that later became the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.


Thoughts and Afterthoughts. London, 1913.


Beerbohm, M. Herbert Beerbohm Tree: Some Memories of Him and of His Art. London [1920].
Pearson, H. Beerbohm Tree: His Life and Laughter. London, 1956.


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13) Herbert Beerbohm Tree, Thoughts and After-Thoughts (London: Cassell and Company, Limited, 1913), p.
10 John Russell Stephens speculates that the terms which Wilde had with George Alexander for productions of Lady Windermere's Fan were similar to those he had with Herbert Beerbohm Tree for A Woman of No Importance although the exact details of Wilde's contract with Alexander are not known.
The way in which different castings throw the balance of the play is not explored although this is clearly the case in the stage history of The School for Scandal in which, as Worth rightly maintains, the central characters are the members of the Surface family, particularly Joseph; in the hands of actor-managers such as Squire and Marie Bancroft at the St James's Theatre and Herbert Beerbohm Tree and Marie Lohr at His Majesty's the Teazles gained a prominence not envisaged by Sheridan.
The first-ever performance on December 10, 1906, was William Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, starring Herbert Beerbohm Tree and his company.
Max Beerbohm, the caricaturist and writer, had a half-brother, Herbert Beerbohm Tree, the celebrated actor manager, who once staged a production of The Tempest at The Theatre Royal, Haymarket.
Herbert Beerbohm Tree was the archetypal actor-manager of the late Victorian era, a magnificent ham who directed and starred in the premieres of Oscar Wilde's plays, a luvvie before we'd invented the term.