Reference > Cambridge History > Later National Literature, Part II > The Drama, 1860–1918 > General Unconcern with Native Drama; Edwin Forrest; Charlotte Cushman; Edwin Booth; Lawrence Barrett
  Dion Boucicault; John Brougham Lester Wallack  

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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVII. Later National Literature, Part II.

XVIII. The Drama, 1860–1918.

§ 4. General Unconcern with Native Drama; Edwin Forrest; Charlotte Cushman; Edwin Booth; Lawrence Barrett.


Yet nothing Boucicault enjoyed better than to descant on the future of the American stage. Like Palmer, like Daly, he was continually writing about the reasons for its poverty and the possibilities of its improvement. No one of these men, however, had any real faith in the American drama or in the native subject. Edwin Forrest (1806–1872) encouraged the Philadelphia group of writers,  2  but the topics chosen by Bird, Conrad, Stone, Smith, Miles, and Boker were largely in accord with English romantic models. Stone’s Metamora; or, The Last of the Wampanoags spoke the language of James Sheridan Knowles; Boker’s Francesca da Rimini reflected the accents of the Elizabethans. Forrest, therefore, encouraged the American drama indirectly. Charlotte Cushman (1816–1876) never even went so far, though her friendship with Bryant, R. H. Stoddard, Sidney Lanier, together with the esteem in which she was held by all intellectual America, would show that she was not aloof from the life of the time. One looks in vain through the repertories of the great actors for that encouragement of the American drama which it most needed as an “infant industry.” Edwin Booth (1833–1893) at the time the assassination of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth, 14 April, 1865, drove him temporarily from the stage had built for himself a permanent reputation in Shakespeare, which he resumed and maintained until his last appearance as Hamlet, 4 April, 1891. Even as a manager, he chose English plays; and his close associate, Lawrence Barrett (1838–1891), was of the same mind, though he appeared in Boker’s Francesca da Rimini (Chicago, 14 September, 1882) and W. D. Howells’s version, from the Spanish, of Yorick’s Love (Cleveland, 26 October, 1878).   5

Note 2. See Book II, Chap. II. [ back ]

CONTENTS · VOLUME CONTENTS · INDEX OF ALL CHAPTERS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  Dion Boucicault; John Brougham Lester Wallack  
 
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