Thomas Betterton: The Greatest Actor of the Restoration Stage

Overview

Restoration London's leading actor and theater manager Thomas Betterton has not been the subject of a biography since 1891. He worked with all the best-known playwrights of his age and with the first generation of English actresses; he was intimately involved in the theater's responses to politics, and became a friend of leading literary men such as Pope and Steele. His innovations in scenery and company management, and his association with the dramatic inheritance of Shakespeare, helped to change the culture of ...

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Thomas Betterton: The Greatest Actor of the Restoration Stage

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Overview

Restoration London's leading actor and theater manager Thomas Betterton has not been the subject of a biography since 1891. He worked with all the best-known playwrights of his age and with the first generation of English actresses; he was intimately involved in the theater's responses to politics, and became a friend of leading literary men such as Pope and Steele. His innovations in scenery and company management, and his association with the dramatic inheritance of Shakespeare, helped to change the culture of English theater. David Roberts's entertaining study unearths new documents and draws fresh conclusions about this major but shadowy figure. It contextualizes key performances and examines Betterton's relationship to patrons, colleagues and family, as well as to significant historical moments and artifacts. The most substantial study available of any seventeenth-century actor, Thomas Betterton gives one of England's greatest performing artists his due on the tercentenary of his death.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
This scrupulously researched biography, notwithstanding the long labors of Judith Milhous, plugs a gaping hole in the history of London's theaters. It was, above all, Pepys and Cibber (and, for more specialist readers, John Downes) who forced on later generations the recognition acknowledged in the subtitle of this book [...] Always alert to the perplexity of Londoners through the last decades of the seventeenth century, Roberts presents us with a Betterton who recognized 'the audience's need to revisit the past in order to make sense of the present' (p. 80). "
-Peter Thomson, STP
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521195843
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 8/31/2010
  • Pages: 270
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

David Roberts is Professor and Head of English at Birmingham City University. His previous publications include The Ladies: Female Patronage of Restoration Drama (1989) and editions of Defoe's Colonel Jack, A Journal of the Plague Year and Lord Chesterfield's Letters. His articles and reviews have appeared in leading journals including Shakespeare Quarterly, The Review of English Studies, ELH, The Times Literary Supplement and New Theatre Quarterly.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations

Acknowledgements

Note on dates and texts

1 Introduction 1

2 Look, my lord, it comes: Betterton's Hamlet 7

3 An obstinately shadowy Titan: Betterton in biography 24

4 An actor of London: early years, 1635-1659 39

5 A walk in the park: Betterton and the scene of comedy 54

6 In the Duke's Company, 1660-1663 69

7 Equal with the highest: Thomas Betterton and Henry Harris, 1663-1668 83

8 Actor management: running the Duke's Company 102

9 In the Company of the Duke: Betterton and Catholic politics in the 1670's 120

10 Union: Betterton and theatrical monopoly, 1682-1695 137

11 Back to the future: breakaway to semi-retirement 154

12 Books and pictures: Betterton and the Chandos Portrait 173

Notes 184

Bibliography 232

Index 250

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