Barrett, Wilson


English postcard photo from his greatest role in his most successful play



Autograph ID: 4311
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1846-1904) English theater manager, actor, and playwright. With his company, Barrett is credited with attracting the largest crowds of English theatergoers at the time because of his success with melodrama such as his production of The Silver King (1882) at the Princess’s Theatre of London. The historical tragedy The Sign of the Cross (1895) was Barrett’s most successful play, both in England and in the US. He was an actor of handsome appearance (despite his small stature) and with a powerful voice. He made his first appearance on the stage at Halifax in 1864, and then played the provinces. He is considered the most famous actor on the London stage of the 1880s. He capitalized on his early success as an actor to become a producer. After managerial experience at the Grand Theatre Leeds and elsewhere, in 1879 he took over management of London’s Old Court Theatre, where in 1880 he introduced Madame Helena Modjeska to London in an adaptation of Maria Stuart (by Schiller), and productions of Adrienne Lecouvreur, La Dame aux camélias and other plays. Barrett ran the refurbished Princess’s Theatre 1881-86, where his melodramatic productions enjoyed great success with attendance the highest ever for this theatre. He presented The Lights o’ London, then The Silver King, regarded as the most successful melodrama of the 19th century in England. It debuted in 1882, with Barrett playing his part for 300 nights without a break, and repeated its success in W. G. Wills’s Claudian. In 1884 Barrett appeared in Hamlet, but did not find much success in any Shakespearian role, except as Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet. In 1885 he and Henry Arthur Jones produced Hoodman Blind and in 1886 co-operated with Clement Scott in Sister Mary. In 1886 Barrett left the Princess’s Theatre, and visited America, repeated in later years. He managed the Olympic Theatre (London), 1890-1891. From 1894 he toured the US, including the American and Knickerbocker theatres on Broadway. Still there in 1895, Barrett found fortune again with a production that would effectively become his most successful, the historical tragedy The Sign of the Cross. Barrett brought the play to England, starting at Leeds in 1895, before going to the Lyric Theatre of London with equal success. The theatre was crowded with audiences shepherded by enthusiastic local clergymen. In 1898 he toured Australia.

SP, 5 ½ x 3 ½ English postcard bust portrait in costume likely as Marcus Superbus in his “The Sign of The Cross”, signed in purple ink at lower border.”
Type: Photograph

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