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Thomas Betterton
The Greatest Actor of the Restoration Stage

$91.99 (C)

  • Date Published: July 2010
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521195843

$ 91.99 (C)

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About the Authors
  • 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.

    • Presents an array of new findings and deductions about Betterton's life and career, of particular interest to theatre scholars interested in documentary records of the seventeenth-century stage
    • Provides a fresh understanding of the place of actors in seventeenth-century London
    • This is the first biography of this major actor for more than 100 years, published on the 300th anniversary of his death
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    Reviews & endorsements

    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

    • Date Published: July 2010
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521195843
    • length: 270 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.57kg
    • contains: 11 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Look my lord, it comes: Betterton's Hamlet
    2. An obstinately shadowy Titan: Betterton in biography
    3. An actor of London: early years, 1635–1659
    4. A walk in the park: Betterton and the scene of comedy
    5. In the Duke's Company, 1660–1663
    6. Equal with the highest: Thomas Betterton and Henry Harris, 1663–1668
    7. Actor management: running the Duke's Company
    8. In the company of the Duke: Betterton and Catholic politics in the 1670s
    9. Union: Betterton and theatrical monopoly, 1682–1695
    10. Back to the future: breakaway to semi-retirement
    11. Books and pictures: Betterton and the Chandos portrait

  • Author

    David Roberts, Birmingham City University
    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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