The Booth Family and Shakespeare in the 19th Century United States: Background information when reading Booth

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Booth

by Karen Joy Fowler

Booth by Karen Joy Fowler X
Booth by Karen Joy Fowler
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  • Published:
    Mar 2022, 480 pages

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Rebecca Foster
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The Booth Family and Shakespeare in the 19th Century United States

This article relates to Booth

Black-and-white photo of John Wilkes Booth (left) with brothers Edwin and Junius Jr. performing Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in 1864 Karen Joy Fowler's Booth features several characters who are Shakespearean actors, starting with Junius Brutus Booth, who was born in England in 1796 and emigrated to the United States in 1821. He managed the Adelphi Theatre in Baltimore in the 1830s and also toured internationally, becoming very well-known in the U.S. and abroad. All told, he featured in almost 3,000 stage performances. His son Edwin would go on to be lauded as one of the greatest American actors of the 19th century, especially noted for his role as Hamlet. Older son Junius Booth Jr. was an actor in his own right, as well as a theater director.

The first known U.S. performance of Shakespeare was in 1730: an amateur production of Romeo and Juliet in New York City. Shakespeare was especially beloved by America's Founding Fathers. But it was in the 19th century that the playwright's work became popular across the country, and among all classes of people. French observer Alexis de Tocqueville noted the bard's ...

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