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Barrett, Lawrence (04 April 1838–20 March 1891), actor, manager, and sometime theater historian, was born in Paterson, New Jersey, the son of an indigent Irish-born tailor whose name is variously reported as Thomas Barrett and Thomas Brannigan, though Lawrence insisted on the former. His authorized biography records only his mother’s first name (Agnes), further indication of difficult early years. By the age of ten he had left home for employment in the linens department of a dry goods store in Detroit. Entirely self-educated, he was an avid reader of Shakespeare and at age fifteen turned to the stage as a career, his first role being that of Murad in ...

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Brown, Thomas Allston (16 January 1836–02 April 1918), theatrical agent and historian, was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts, the son of Thomas Brown, an innkeeper, and Lucretia H. Milton. He was educated in Newburyport until 1852, when he became an advance agent for traveling circuses. From then until 1857, he said, he traveled “from Maine to California” and gathered theatrical information and history at every chance along his routes....

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Freedley, George (05 September 1904–11 September 1967), curator of the New York Public Library theater collection, drama critic, and author, was born George Reynolds Freedley in Richmond, Virginia, the son of George Washington Jacoby Freedley, a manufacturing executive, and Maude Reynolds. He grew up in Richmond, where his grandfather and father were prominent in the city’s commercial life; he attended Richmond Academy and John Marshall High School, from which he graduated in 1920. He received a B.A. from the University of Richmond in 1925 and studied with ...

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Hornblow, Arthur, Sr. (1865–06 May 1942), editor, author, and dramatist, was born in Manchester, England, the son of William Hornblow and Sarah Jane Rodgers. Little is known of Hornblow’s childhood; however, he studied literature and painting in Paris before coming to the United States in 1889. While in Paris, Hornblow acted as a correspondent for both English and American newspapers....

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Mantle, Burns (23 December 1873–09 February 1948), theater critic and chronicler, was born Leroy Willis Mantle in Watertown, New York, the son of Robert Burns Mantle, a haberdasher, and Susan Lawrence, a music teacher. At age twelve Mantle began using the name of his recently deceased father. During his childhood, Mantle moved with his family to Denver, then briefly to Mexico, before they settled for several years in San Diego, California. Largely self-educated, his formal schooling was sketchy, and after the elementary grades he was tutored at home by his grandmother and mother. In San Diego, young Mantle began in the newspaper business as a delivery boy and, later, became a printer’s apprentice at the ...

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Matthews, Brander (21 February 1852–31 March 1929), author, scholar, and teacher, was born James Brander Matthews in New Orleans, Louisiana, the son of Edward Matthews, a prosperous broker in cotton, real estate, and railroads, and Virginia Brander. Educated privately in Europe and in New York City, where his father settled the family when Matthews was seven, he received his B.A. (1871) and M.A. (1874) from Columbia College. In 1873 Matthews married British actress Ada S. Smith; they had one daughter. That same year, he completed a law degree at Columbia, in preparation for managing the fortune he would inherit. However, when the financial panic of 1873 destroyed the family wealth, Matthews was left largely free to pursue his literary interests, particularly his enthusiasm for the theater. Although he worked for several years as a lawyer in his father’s New York City office, he devoted what time he could to studying, writing, and reviewing drama. “From my youth up, my strongest literary ambition was to write plays,” Matthews recalled in his autobiography, ...

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Odell, George C. D. (19 March 1866–17 October 1949), theatrical scholar and college professor, was born George Clinton Densmore Odell in Newburgh, New York, the son of Benjamin Barker Odell, a businessman who served as mayor of the town, and Ophelia Bookstaver. His older brother Benjamin Odell, Jr., served as governor of New York state from 1900 to 1904. George received his early education at Siglar Preparatory School in Newburgh and went to Columbia University, his choice of colleges being largely dictated by his desire to be close to the New York theater scene. He completed his B.A. in 1889, his M.A. in 1890, and his Ph.D. in 1893; both graduate degrees were in the field of literature. His study of English and Scottish ballads was published during the final year of work on his doctorate, and a little later he became the editor of school editions of ...