Henry Irving

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Sir Henry Irving
John Brodribb (middle name Henry added at his christening)
BirthplaceKeinton Mandeville, Somerset, England
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The Henry Irving Foundation, a small registered charity set up by John H.
Among the hundreds of appetizing Victorian items ranging from playbills to theatre programmes, letters and books are several letters from Sir Henry Irving - offered here for around pounds 15 to pounds 25.
(c)Victoria and Albert Museum, London Henry Irving as Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII, Lyceum Theatre, London, 1892 Photographer: W & D Downey Irving was the leading actor-manager of the Victorian theatre, and the first actor to be knighted.
In Bram Stoker's Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving there is a passage where Stoker and Irving are talking about a future production of Romeo and Juliet and are discussing the best way to carry Paris's body into the tomb.
Sir Henry Irving laid the memorial stone of the new Grand Theatre and Opera House, Woolwich, yesterday afternoon.
With the introduction of gas and limelight, a few practitioners, notably Henry Irving, had the vision to be more creative but the level of light available was still severely restricted.
For the last few seasons, Neal Foster (who functions like Burbage, Garrick and Henry Irving within the traditional role of actor manager) has spun theatrical webs of the purest gold at this hallowed theatre.
Sir Henry Irving: A Victorian Actor and his World Jeffrey Richards.
But in this marvellous, totally gripping performance, the stage is continually peopled with characters and so you get not only the Shylock we know from Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, but the actors who once played him ranging from the great Edmund Kean and Macklin - both legendary tragedians (Macklin played the Jew when he was approaching 90) to Henry Irving, who gave his Shylock a thousand times.
A catalogue has come this week from Colin Sutherland, the theatre books dealer and in it there are several letters and notes and telegrams from Henry Irving, the great Victorian actor.
Anniversaries: 1809: Dartmoor Prison opened to house French prisoners of war; 1819: Birth of Queen Victoria; 1895: Henry Irving became the first theatrical knight; 1902: Empire Day celebrated for the first time in Britain; 1904: Birth of singer and comedian George Formby; 1916: Conscription began in Britain; 1920: President Deschamel of France fell from a sleeper train and was found wandering along the line in his pyjamas; 1941: German battleship Bismarck sank HMS Hood killing most of the 1,421 crew; 1974: Death of American jazz musician Duke Ellington; 1988: Damascus had ten hours of snowfall for the first time in 50 years.
THE life of Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving is celebrated in an exhibition of costumes, paintings and other theatrical memorabilia at the Swan Theatre in Stratford.