The House of Barrymore

Overview

This epic family biography begins in the 1860s with Louisa Drew, the greatest comedienne of her time, mother of the brilliant Georgiana Drew Barrymore and mother-in-law of the vaudeville star and matinee idol Maurice Barrymore. But it is the children of Georgie and Maurice who are the heart of the book: Ethel, Lionel, and John, the most extraordinary members of an extraordinary family. We see Ethel's sensational social and stage debuts in London and on Broadway; her struggle with alcohol, debt, and damaged ...

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Overview

This epic family biography begins in the 1860s with Louisa Drew, the greatest comedienne of her time, mother of the brilliant Georgiana Drew Barrymore and mother-in-law of the vaudeville star and matinee idol Maurice Barrymore. But it is the children of Georgie and Maurice who are the heart of the book: Ethel, Lionel, and John, the most extraordinary members of an extraordinary family. We see Ethel's sensational social and stage debuts in London and on Broadway; her struggle with alcohol, debt, and damaged reputation; and her spectacular comeback in The Corn is Green. We see John's vault to fame in Shakespearean stage roles and his triumphant move to the screen before succumbing to the "Barrymore curse" of addiction to alcohol. And we see the steadier Lionel pursuing his talents in painting and composing before finally capitulating to the family tradition. We see both the price and the privileges of their extraordinary fame; and finally, with the death of Ethel, the decline of America's first family of acting.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this lengthy biography of the Barrymore dynasty, the spotlight, as in life, shines brightest on Lionel (1878-1954), Ethel (1879-1959) and John (1882-1942). Greatly gifted, the three stars of stage and film were also alcoholics, an addiction Ethel conquered when it threatened her performances. Although Lionel's weaknesses included morphine, he was able to maintain a distinguished career. It was the ``baby,'' John, whose private and public pursuits were ruined by boozing and womanizing. He was hailed as the world's most memorable Hamlet, yet John's star fell steadily after his youthful triumphs, until he was driven to connive with his exploiters in his downfall. Loosely organized and sometimes hard to track, this frustrating volume by the author of Bernard Shaw and the Actresses nevertheless captures some of the Barrymore magic. Photos. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Working from an impressive array of sources--Peters combed theatrical libraries and collections across the country and communicated with dozens of her subjects' associates and acquaintances--the author has created a definitive account of the lives and careers of John, Ethel, and Lionel Barrymore, ``Broadway's Royal Family of Actors.'' Much more comprehensive than Ethel's Memoirs and Gene Fowler's Good Night Sweet Prince: The Life and Times of John Barrymore , both currently available only in reprint editions, this biography includes extensive notes for each of its 31 chapters as well as a selected bibliography. The author of excellent biographies of Charlotte Bronte ( Unquiet Soul , LJ 4/15/75) and Mrs. Patrick Campbell ( Mrs. Pat , LJ 2/1/84), Peters has made an outstanding contribution to the history of the American theater in her thoroughly readable account of three of its most illustrious artists.-- Carolyn M. Mulac, Chicago P.L.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786117079
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/1999
  • Format: Cassette
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

MARGOT PETERS has been Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin and holds a Ph.D. in Victorian literature. She is the author of Charlotte Brontë: Style in the Novel, Unquiet Soul: A Biography of Charlotte Brontë, Bernard Shaw and the Actresses, The House of Barrymore, and Mrs. Pat: The Life of Mrs. Patrick Campbell. She lives in Lake Mills, Wisconsin.

Nadia May is one of the pioneers of audiobook narration, with twenty-five years of recording and over six hundred titles to her credit. Named one of AudioFile's Golden Voices, she has won sixteen Earphones Awards. She is also a well-known stage actor in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she lives with her husband and two badly behaved dogs.

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