David Garrick

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Garrick, David,

1717–79, English actor, manager, and dramatist. He was indisputably the greatest English actor of the 18th cent., and his friendships with Diderot, Samuel Johnson, Oliver Goldsmith, and other notables who made up "The Club" resulted in detailed records of his life. Garrick made his formal debut in 1742 as Richard III and was an immediate success. He was noted for his versatility, playing the tragic heroes of contemporary drama as well as Shakespearean roles. His King Lear was especially praised. Although he was short in stature and had a mercurial nature, his straightforward diction and unpretentious demeanor swept the declamatory school from the stage. From 1747 until his retirement in 1776, he was the manager of Drury Lane, where he initiated many reforms, including the concealment of stage lighting (1765) from the audience. He also wrote many plays himself, the most successful being the farces Bon Ton (1775) and Miss in Her Teens (1747); he collaborated with George Colman the elder in writing The Clandestine Marriage (1766).


See his diary, ed. by R. C. Alexander (1928, repr. 1971); his letters, ed. by D. M. Little and G. M. Kahrl (3 vol., 1963); biographies by C. M. A. Lenanton (1958), K. A. Burnim (1961, repr. 1973), F. A. Hedgcock (1912, repr. 1969), G. W. Stone, Jr. and G. M. Kahrl (1979), and A. Kendall (1986); studies by E. P. Stein (1938, repr. 1967), F. M. Parsons (2d ed. 1969), and C. Price (1973).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved. www.cc.columbia.edu/cu/cup/
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Garrick, David


Born Feb. 19, 1717, in Hereford; died Jan. 20, 1779, near London. English actor, dramatist, and man of the theater.

Born into a military officer’s family, Garrick spent his childhood and youth in Ireland. From 1737 he lived in London, where for a short time he studied law and worked as a wine merchant. His career as a dramatist began in 1740. In 1741 he played minor roles at Goodman’s Fields Theater, and he gained wide popular recognition after appearing in the role of Richard III (in Shakespeare’s play of that name). In the same year he proved himself as a leading comedy actor in the role of Sharp in his own comedy, The Lying Valet. Garrick began acting at Drury Lane Theater in 1742 and became one of its owners in 1747. (His management helped to make it one of the leading theaters in Western Europe.) He brought together the best actors, formed an ensemble, and held regular rehearsals. He paid particular attention to the staging of a play. Garrick did not allow the audience to be seated on the stage, as was the practice in English theaters up to that time, and he introduced footlights. His stage art was the high point of enlightened realism in the 18th-century English theater. In his performances Garrick achieved harmony of “feeling” and “reason” (in the vocabulary of the Englightenment). His performance of roles was distinguished by original concepts, precision of outline, and development of detail. (However, his contemporaries did not consider him a “rational” actor.) Garrick had a strong, intense temperament.

Among Garrick’s best tragic roles were Richard III, Hamlet, and King Lear (in Shakespeare’s tragedies). His best comic roles included Benedick (Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing), Abel Drugger (Jonson’s The Alchemist), and Sir John Brute (Vanbrugh’s The Provoked Wife). Garrick did a great deal to popularize Shakespeare’s works. He performed 25 Shakespearean roles, and in 1769 he organized the Shakespeare jubilees at the dramatist’s birthplace in Stratford-on-Avon. In 1776 Garrick sold the Drury Lane Theater to Sheridan and retired from the theater.


Polner, T. David Garrik, ego zhizn’ istsenicheskaia deiatel’nost’. St. Petersburg, 1891.
Mints, N. David Garrik. Moscow-Leningrad, 1939.
Stupnikov, I. D. Garrik. [Leningrad, 1969.]
Omar, S. David Garrick. London, 1958.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(8) Greene and Clarke summarize how financial, social, and artistic connections were sustained between the London and Dublin stage, noting that, "year after year actors like James Quin, David Garrick, and Dennis Delane risks the hazard of the Irish Sea voyage and returned to London in the Autumn after long and lucrative visits" (88).
Between late May 1746 and early April 1747 David Garrick must have felt profoundly stymied.
Building on the textual work of Harry William Pedicord and Fredrick Louis Bergmann's Plays of David Garrick, Cunningham demonstrates how Garrick altered the texts to accommodate audience tastes, production limitations, or individual acting skills.
The play was Romeo and Juliet and the famous actor David Garrick played the part of Romeo.
Lethe, a very short farce by David Garrick, follows a review of actors and audience in the 1700s called Sam Butler & Co.
As she analyzes the contributions of David Garrick, John Philip Kemble, Sarah Siddons and Edmund Keane she reveals how Shakespeare was commodified, consecrated, gendered, and appropriated as an icon and a blank slate onto which social, literary and dramatic discourse could be written by all who cared to do so.
The article irked Dumanis, who had asked the paper not to run the story since she felt it violated an agreement her spokesman had made with Times reporter David Garrick not to publish the charges and/or plea bargain that had been filed.
Todd Andrew Borlik's "'Painting of a sorrow': Visual Culture and the Performance of Stasis in David Garrick's Hamlet" examines Garrick's dramatic pauses in relation to the genre of the theatre portrait in the eighteenth century.
EIGHTEENTH-CENTURY SUPERSTAR DAVID Garrick may have shorn Hamlet of its gravediggers and rewritten Romeo and Juliet's tomb scene, but he's still persona grata at the Folger Theatre, part of the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C.
The principal focus in the chapters on the eighteenth through twentieth centuries is on the acting styles and notable performances of such major actors and actresses as David Garrick, Sarah Siddons, Edmund Kean, the Booths, Henry Irving and his leading lady Ellen Terry, and Laurence Olivier.
The great thespian and friend of Johnson, David Garrick, writes of his housemaid Molly: "As for Cautherly mansquibbing her (which he certainly does), I don't mind--but I suspect she has all kinds of fellows in our absence, and I don't know what may be the consequence." As fan MacIntyre unimprovably puts it in his Garrick biography (1999, p.
Procerus introduces them to their personal trainers - Benn has Brutus (ex- paratrooper David Garrick) and Eubank has Spartacus (former army man Guy List).