Harley Granville-Barker

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Granville-Barker, Harley,

1877–1946, English dramatist, actor, producer, and critic. As comanager of the Court Theatre from 1904 to 1907 he was an advocate and producer of "uncommercial" and experimental theater in his time. Granville-Barker was the chief producer of the plays of new dramatists as well as those of the great masters; he presented the works of Euripides, Shakespeare, Schnitzler, Shaw, and Galsworthy. His own realistic dramas, including The Voysey Inheritance (1905), Waste (1907), and The Madras House (1910), were not remarkable successes. After 1918, he devoted himself almost entirely to writing, lecturing, and scholarship, and achieved literary distinction with his Prefaces to Shakespeare (6 vol. 1927–46).


See biography by C. B. Purdom (1956, repr. 1971); study by D. Kennedy (1985).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Granville-Barker, Harley


Born Nov. 25, 1877, in London; died Aug. 31, 1946, in Paris. English playwright, historian, and theater figure. One of the leaders of the Court Theater (beginning in 1904).

Granville-Barker contributed to the establishment on the stage of the plays of Shaw and Ibsen. His theoretical works, which were aimed against escapist, philistine drama and affirmed the principles of critical realism, included A National Theater (1907, with W. Archer), The Exemplary Theater (1922), and On Dramatic Method (1931). Granville-Barker’s most important work was Prefaces to Shakespeare (vols. 1–5, 1927–49). His plays The Marrying of Anne Leite (1901). The Voysey Inheritance (1905). Waste (1907). The Madras House (1910). and The Ballot Vote (1917) are realistic, slice-of-life dramas.


The Secret Life. London, 1923.
On Dramatic Method. New York. 1956.
Prefaces to Shakespeare, vols. 1–2. London [1958].
The Voysey Inheritance: A Play. [London, 1959.]


Henderson, A. European Dramatists [5th ed.]. New York, 1926.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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(8) Harley Granville Barker, Plays: Two (London: Methuen, 1994), 37.
Morgan, A Drama of Political Man: A Study in the Plays of Harley Granville Barker (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1961), 96.
Salenius, Harley Granville Barker (Boston: Twayne, 1982), 33.
I do not think it is to privilege drama over theatre, or words over other theatrical signifiers, to argue that Harley Granville Barker's attempt to perform whole texts opened up possibilities for understanding Shakespeare's use of structure that were not readily accessible in the truncated versions of other practitioners.
"But what we're especially pleased about," she says, "is that `The Madras House,' with a lesser known author (Harley Granville Barker), is doing so well."
NIAGARA-ON-THE-LAKE, Ontario A Shaw Festival presentation of a play in two acts by Harley Granville Barker. Directed by Neil Munro.
In Harley Granville Barker's "The Madras House," this translates into a production that is both stylish and stylized, the former lending grace and a tonal fluidity, the latter occasionally verging on the serf-consciously precious.
"Waste," the Harley Granville Barker revival, got Hall's initiative off to a stirring start and stands, indeed, as this director's most incisive piece of stagecraft since his "Wild Duck," with Alex Jennings and David Threlfall, seven years ago.

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