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Macready, William Charles

Macready, William Charles

Macready, William Charles, 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 Forrest. 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.

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).

(born March 3, 1793, London, Eng.—died April 27, 1873, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire) English actor-manager. He made his debut in 1810, and by 1820 he was famous for his performances as Hamlet, Lear, and Macbeth. As theatre manager of London's Covent Garden (1837–39) and Drury Lane (1841–43), he introduced reforms such as full rehearsals, historically accurate costumes and sets, and a reversion to the original Shakespeare texts. He toured the U.S. in 1826, 1843, and 1848–49; his last tour ended with the Astor Place riot, caused by partisans of Edwin Forrest. He retired from the stage in 1851. His diary provides a view of 19th-century theatrical life.

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