Macready, William Charles

Macready, William Charles

(məkrē`dē), 1793–1873, English actor and manager. The son of a provincial manager, he first appeared as Romeo in his father's company in 1810. His London debut (1816) was as Orestes in The Distressed Mother. With his portrayal of Richard III at Covent Garden in 1819, Macready established himself as a tragedian of the first rank and the only rival to Edmund Kean. Although he was at his best in the plays of his own day, his Lear, Hamlet, and Macbeth were noteworthy. He was manager of Covent Garden (1837–39) and of Drury Lane (1841–43). In 1849, on his last visit to the United States, the Astor Place riot occurred, in which several people were killed, brought on by his fierce rivalry with Edwin ForrestForrest, Edwin,
1806–72, American actor, b. Philadelphia. He was the first national idol of the American theater. He appeared at 14 as Young Norval in John Home's Douglas and gained experience supporting Edmund Kean in Shakespearean roles.
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. He retired in 1851. Macready sought to uphold the standards of fine drama in a period of decline, and he pointed the way toward the drawing-room realism of the 19th cent.

Bibliography

See his Reminiscences, ed. by Sir Frederick Pollock (2 vol., 1875); his journal, from 1832 to 1851, ed. by J. C. Trewin (1967); biography by A. S. Downer (1966).

Macready, William Charles

 

Born Mar. 3, 1793, in London; died Apr. 27, 1873, in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. English actor and director.

Macready came from a family of actors. He made his debut in 1810 in Birmingham and later played in provincial theaters; he appeared in London for the first time in 1816, at Covent Garden. In 1823 he began work with the Drury Lane Theater. He toured in Paris (1822; 1828) and New York (1826; 1848). From 1837-39, Macready joined the management of Covent Garden, staging such productions as Shakespeare’s Henry V, Byron’s The Two Foscari, Browning’s Strafford, and Bulwer-Lytton’s The Lady of Lyons and Richelieu, and playing the leading roles in them. From 1841 to 43 he was one of the managers of the Drury Lane Theater. He acted for the last time in 1851, playing the title role in Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

Macready strove for historical authenticity in his productions; he advocated the actor’s detailed study of his role, and he himself trained actors to act as an ensemble. He was one of the first to bring back the original Shakespearean texts to the stage. Among Macready’s roles were the title roles in Shakespeare’s King Lear and Hamlet.

WORKS

Reminiscences and Selections From His Diaries and Letters, vols. 1-2. London, 1875.

REFERENCES

Archer, W. W. C. Macready. London, 1890.
Trewin, J.C. Mr. Macready. London, 1955.
Joseph, B. The Tragic Actor. London, 1959. Chapter 7.