Henry Irving

(redirected from Sir Henry Irving)
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 ?
1905: Legendary English actor Sir Henry Irving died in Bradford, during his farewell tour.
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.
The baton once passed from Sir Henry Irving to Laurence Olivier to Albert Finney dropped and now all we have is Benedict Cumberbatch, a man, Berkoff rails, more worthy of HELLO
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.
1838: Sir Henry Irving, English actor, was born in Somerset.
She played opposite Sir Henry Irving at the Lyceum Theatre for over 20 years and was famed for her portrayal of Shakespearean heroines.
She was being employed in Shakespearian and other dramatic roles by the great impresario Sir Henry Irving, and had been only the second actress in the role of Peter Pan in the play written by her fellow Scot, JM Barrie.
In that particular context I can note that when Oscar Wilde heard Sir Henry Irving had been knighted, he remarked acidly to a friend: "My God, actors weren't buried in consecrated ground until the 1830s.
Toronto's Grand Opera House did no less, with Sarah Bernhardt and Sir Henry Irving treading the boards when the divas Marcella Sembrich and Emma Albani (Canada's own "Queen of Song") weren't warbling from them.
Although she left off theatre going after Prince Albert's death, her love for the stage remained and in 1895 she created the first 'theatrical knight', Sir Henry Irving.
The singer Maria Malibran (1808-1836), the actor Sir Henry Irving (1838- 1905), and the violinist Joseph Joachim (1831-1907) were all legends within their respective arts, but only scholars know their names today.
The married father-of-one wrote lovesick letters to one homosexual American poet and became hopelessly obsessed with the actor Sir Henry Irving.