Henry Irving

(redirected from Irving, Henry)
Sir Henry Irving
John Brodribb (middle name Henry added at his christening)
Birthday
BirthplaceKeinton Mandeville, Somerset, England
Died
Occupation
Actor

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).

REFERENCES

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].

N. V. MINTS

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