Henry Hamilton (playwright)

Henry Hamilton (c. 1854 – 4 September 1918) was an English playwright, lyricist and actor. He is best remembered for his musical theatre libretti, including The Duchess of Dantzic (1903), The School Girl (1903), Véronique (1905) and The Little Michus (1907), often adapting foreign works for the British stage.

He began as an actor in 1873 but turned to writing plays in 1881 and was especially successful in the first decade of the 20th century. He was also the author of the popular song "Private Tommy Atkins" (1893). Away from his professional life, Hamilton studied theosophy.

Early life and acting

Hamilton was born in late 1854 or early 1855 at Nunhead, Surrey,[note 1] to James Hamilton and his second wife Janette (née Ferguson)[2] and baptised 14 March 1855 at St Mary Magdalen, Peckham, Surrey.[3] His father is described as a gentleman, a merchant and, in his death announcement, formerly of the Hon. East Indian Civil Service. Within a year of Henry's baptism, James had died, aged 46.[4] Hamilton's mother married Daniel Ilett in October 1865,[5] and Hamilton was sent to Christ's Hospital for his education.[6]

As an actor, he debuted in 1873 at the Theatre Royal, Edinburgh under J. B. Howard's management. Later that year he joined the touring comedy company of Wilson Barrett, and he was engaged by Craven Robertson's Caste touring company in 1874. In 1876, Hamilton formed the Pitt-Hamilton comedy drama company with Henry Mader Pitt, which toured the North of England for two years.[6] His first appearance in London was at the Lyceum Theatre in 1878 playing Snodgrass in the Pickwickian farcical comedy Jingle, with Henry Irving,[7] and he appeared later that year at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane for a season.[6]

By 1880, Hamilton had joined Barry Sullivan's Shakespearan company, with which he played Horatio in Hamlet and Gratiano in The Merchant of Venice at Leicester's Theatre Royal.[8] Later that year, he played minor roles in a comedy, False Shame, at the Royalty Theatre,[9] and after Christmas he appeared in a short season "of favourite pieces" starring Helen Barry at the Warrior Square Concert Rooms in St Leonards-on-Sea.[10] In 1881 Hamilton joined the touring company of Miss Wallis, playing Shakespeare and other works, before taking a variety of roles in a summer season at Brighton's Theatre Royal.[11] Later that year he played Alfred de Maynard in a revival of The Corsican Brothers at the Queens Theatre, Manchester.[12] The play initiated a professional relationship between Hamilton and Marie Litton, who engaged Hamilton to act with her in Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer and Merivale's The Cynic, both produced under her management at the Globe Theatre in London. They acted together again in Hamilton's Moths and took the play on tour until December 1882.[13]

Playwright and lyricist

"Not being a great actor",[14] Hamilton began to diversify. In November 1881 he sold his first play, A Shadow Sceptre, to the producer Charles Bernard for his leading lady Annie Alleyn.[15] His second play, Moths, was an adaptation of the 1880 novel of the same name by Ouida centred on the idle and pleasure-seeking European aristocracy.[16] The two plays were staged within three weeks of each other – Moths at the Globe Theatre on 25 March 1882[17] and A Shadow Sceptre at the Prince's Theatre, Manchester, on 13 April.[18] The production of Moths was prefaced by a virulent argument between Ouida and Hamilton conducted publicly in The Era concerning copyright theft and the right to adapt works. The dispute inadvertently benefited both novel and play.[16]

One reviewer of Moths declared that "a more inartistic finale has seldom been put on the stage", while another thought the treatment "appropriate and undeniably dramatic".[19] A third critic concluded that Hamilton, having followed the plot of the novel closely, "produced a passable play, which promises to become a popular but ... certainly not an artistic, success" and lost the spirit of Ouida's work.[19] Moths transferred to the Olympic Theatre where it continued to attract large audiences.[20] A Shadow Sceptre was a four-act historical play, set in the world of Lady Jane Grey in the Court of Queen Mary. The Era thought it well written and staged, with only minor faults. The paper stated that, although Hamilton's inexperience meant that this work could "scarcely be spoken of in terms of unqualified praise", it admired the "courage which has led him to take so high a flight". It looked forward "with both interest and pleasure" to further work from Hamilton.[18]

His next play, Our Regiment, was a farce adaptation of the 1881 German play, Krieg im Frieden by Gustav von Moser and Franz von Schönthau, which had previously been adapted in English as The Passing Regiment in New York.[21] Hamilton's adaptation was first staged at a Vaudeville Theatre matinée on 13 February 1883; it also had two London revivals and a successful provincial run the next year.[22]

Hamilton then wrote the libretto for William Fullerton's successful comic opera Lady of the Locket, staged at The Empire Theatre on 11 March 1885,[23] before penning "an independent and ambitious dramatic work of his own", Harvest, that premiered at the Princess's Theatre on 18 September 1886. The plot centres around Scottish marriage law.[24] Hamilton then staged the play in New York at Wallack's Theatre beginning on 12 October 1886, playing the character Bevil Brooke; it closed on 3 November 1886.[25]

His 1897 melodrama, The White Heather, written with Cecil Raleigh, at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, achieved success in both London and New York.[26][27] It was adapted as an American silent film in 1919.[28] Thereafter he collaborated with Raleigh several times.

His most popular theatre libretti included The Duchess of Dantzic (1903) and The School Girl (1903), and English adaptations of the French operettas Véronique (1905) and The Little Michus (1907).[29] According to the obituary writer of the Daily Mirror, Hamilton "was a workmanlike constructor of melodrama, as the records of many Drury Lane successes testify. He was also a deft adaptor of French libretti into English and a lyric-writer of no small capability."[14]

He was also the author of the popular song Private Tommy Atkins, music by Samuel Potter,[note 2] introduced when interpolated into the musical A Gaiety Girl in 1893.[31] Another jingoistic song penned by Hamilton was Sons of the Motherland, with music by Lionel Monckton,[32] introduced in 1901 into San Toy a year into its run.[33]

Personal life

Away from his professional life, Hamilton studied theosophy and was the first Chairman, and latterly the President, of the Folkestone Lodge of the Theosophical Society and a man of deep spiritual convictions. He never married and lived for many years at The Haven, Sandgate, Kent, where he died on 4 September 1918.[34] His funeral took place on 7 September 1918 at Holy Trinity, Folkestone, with the interment at Folkestone Cemetery. Hamilton's friend, the Rev. Gerald Gurney, a former actor, co-officiated at both ceremonies, and Sir Squire Bancroft was a chief mourner.[35]

Works

Sources

Notes

  1. The civil registration index for Hamilton's birth confirms he was born in the Camberwell Registration District (of which Nunhead is a part) between mid-November 1854 and mid-March 1855.[1]
  2. Potter (1851–1934) wrote music for operettas, dramas, pantomimes and Victorian burlesques.[30]

References

  1. "Index Entry", ONS via freeBMD, accessed 22 June 2018
  2. "London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754–1932" for James Hamilton and Janette Ferguson, London Metropolitan Archives, via Ancestry.co.uk, accessed 15 April 2018 (subscription required)
  3. "London, England, Church of England Births and Baptisms, 1813–1916" for Henry Hamilton, London Metropolitan Archives, via Ancestry.co.uk, accessed 25 February 2018 (subscription required)
  4. "Births, Deaths, Marriages and Obituaries", Morning Chronicle, p. 8, 27 February 1856, accessed 25 February 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  5. "London, England, Church of England Marriages and Banns, 1754–1931" for Janette Hamilton, London Metropolitan Archives, via Ancestry.co.uk, accessed 25 February 2018 (subscription required)
  6. Pascoe, Charles Eyre The Dramatic List: A Record of the Performances of Living Actors and Actresses of the British Stage, D. Bogue (1880), p. 164
  7. "Henry Irving's Benefit", The Era, 14 July 1878, p. 13, accessed 17 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  8. "Theatre Royal", Leicester Journal, 14 May 1880, p. 8, accessed 4 May 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  9. "Royalty Theatre", The Era, 27 June 1880 p. 5, accessed 4 May 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  10. "Christmas Holiday Arrangements – The Warrior Square Concert Rooms", Hastings and St Leonards Observer, 25 December 1880, p. 5; and "Public notices", Hastings and St Leonards Observer, 1 January 1881, p. 1; both accessed 4 May 2018 via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  11. "Public Notices – Theatre Royal, Manningham Lane, Bradford", Bradford Daily Telegraph, 1 April 1881, p. 1, accessed 4 May 2018; "Brighton Theatre Royal", The Stage, 8 July 1881, p. 2, accessed 26 May 2018; and "The Theatre", Brighton Herald, 17 September 1881, p. 3, accessed 26 May 2018, all via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  12. "Queen's Theatre", Manchester Evening News, 4 October 1881, p. 2, accessed 6 June 2018; and "Theatrical Mems", Bristol Mercury, 23 November 1881, p. 6, accessed 6 June 2018, both via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  13. "The Globe Theatre", Bradford Daily Telegraph, 12 January 1882, p. 4, accessed 6 June 2018; "Globe Theatre", Daily Telegraph, 14 January 1882, p. 2, accessed 6 June 2018; "Theatrical Intelligence", Chelmsford Chronicle, 24 March 1882, p. 7, accessed 6 June 2018; and "Advertisements and Notices", Birmingham Daily Post, 2 December 1882, p. 4, accessed 20 June 2018, all via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  14. "To-day's Gossip", Daily Mirror, 5 September 1918, p. 6, accessed 20 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  15. "Grimalkin", The Stage, 18 November 1881, p. 9, accessed 26 May 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  16. Bradley, Hayley Jane. Chapter 4 in Ouida and Victorian Popular Culture, Andrew King and Jane Jordan (eds.) Routledge (2016) ISBN 978-1-317-08478-5
  17. "Globe Theatre", Morning Post, 27 March 1882, p. 2, accessed 7 June 2018 via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  18. A Shadow Sceptre, The Era, 22 April 1882, p. 6, accessed 27 February 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  19. "Literary and Art Notes", Nottingham Evening Post, 29 March 1882, p. 4, accessed 7 June 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  20. "Olympic Theatre", Morning Post, 22 May 1882, p. 2, accessed 8 Jun 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  21. Fisher, James and Felicia Hardison Londré. Historical Dictionary of American Theater: Modernism, Rowman & Littlefield (2017), p. 514
  22. Howard, Cecil. Dramatic Notes: An Illustrated Year-book of The Stage, Hutchinson & Co. (1892), pp. 19–20
  23. "Empire Theatre", Morning Post, 12 March 1885, p. 3, accessed 3 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  24. "Harvest at the Princess's Theatre", Sporting Life, 20 September 1886, p. 4, accessed 11 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  25. "Advertisement – Henry Hamilton", The Era, 25 September 1886, p. 2, accessed 21 January 2018; "In and About the City – Mr Wallack's Company", The New York Times, 25 September 1882, p. 5, accessed 21 January 2018; and "Advertisement – Wallacks, Broadway and 30th St.", The New York Times, 1 November 1882, p. 7, accessed 21 January 2018, both via newspapers.com (subscription required)
  26. "The Theatrical World – The White Heather at Drury Lane", St James's Gazette, 17 September 1897, p. 12, accessed 15 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  27. "At Gotham's Playhouses", The Opera Glass, p. 188 (November 1897, Vol. 4, No. 11); and Advertisement, New York Tribune (rightmost column has theatre listings for 30 April 1897 and notes "last day" of the play.)
  28. Progressive Silent Film List: The White Heather, SilentEra.com, accessed 20 April 2018
  29. Obituary, The New York Times, 5 September 1918, accessed 4 July 2011
  30. Williams, Margaret. "Edwards Family Tree" for Samuel Potter, via Ancestry.co.uk, accessed 17 July 2018 (subscription required)
  31. "New Military Song", Volunteer Service Gazette, p. 11, 4 November 1893, accessed 20 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  32. Hamilton, Henry (words) and Lionel Monckton (music). "Sons of the Motherland", Chappell & Co., c. 1914, via Trove (National Library of Australia), accessed March 27, 2018
  33. "Daly's", The Stage, 25 October 1900, p. 15, accessed 27 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  34. "Death of Mr Henry Anderson", Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald, 7 September 1918, p. 15, accessed 17 March 2018 via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  35. "The Late Mr H. Hamilton", Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald, 14 September 1918, p. 3, accessed 21 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  36. "The Theatre", St James's Gazette, 16 February 1883, p. 6, accessed 3 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  37. "Handfast", The Globe, 14 December 1887, p. 6, accessed 11 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  38. "Shaftesbury Theatre", Morning Post, 18 May 1891, p. 3, accessed 11 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  39. "Drury Lane Theatre", Morning Post, 24 September 1889, p. 5, accessed 3 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  40. Theatrical Gossip, The Era, 23 August 1902, p. 12, accessed 15 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  41. "La Tosca at the Garrick Theatre", The Era, 30 November 1889, p. 10, accessed 15 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  42. "Dick Whittington at Drury Lane", St James's Gazette, 27 December 1894, p. 5, accessed 15 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  43. The London Theatres – The Grand, The Era, 2 March 1895, p. 9, accessed 15 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  44. "Theatrical Intelligence", The Sun, August 30, 1895, p. 7, accessed 15 April 2018 via Library of Congress
  45. "Plays and Players", The Globe, 28 May 1896, p. 6, accessed 27 February 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  46. "London Theatricals", The Scotsman, 8 June 1896, p. 7, accessed 27 February 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  47. Watson, Malcolm. "Theatre Metropole – The Three Musketeers", St James's Gazette, 13 September 1898, p. 12, accessed 15 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  48. "One Dumas melodrama and three native vaudeville farces", The Sun, February 26, 1899, p. 17, accessed 15 April 2018 via Library of Congress
  49. "The Great Ruby", The Globe, 16 September 1898, p. 3, accessed 15 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  50. Wlaschin, Ken Silent Mystery and Detective Movies, McFarland (28 April 2009), p. 100 ISBN 978-0-786-45429-7
  51. Traubner, Richard. Operetta: a theatrical history, Routledge, 2003 ISBN 0-415-96641-8
  52. "The School Girl a Hit". The New York Times, 10 May 1903, accessed 20 February 2011
  53. The Play, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 25–52, London: Greening & Co., Ltd., 1904
  54. The Play Pictorial, vol. 6, pp. 29–56, Greening & Co., Ltd., 1905, accessed 11 December 2009
  55. "Drury Lane – The Sins of Society", The Globe, 13 September 1907, p. 5, accessed 19 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  56. "American Film Institute, AFI Catalog of Feature Films – The Sins of Society (1915)", American Film Institute, accessed 19 April 2018
  57. The Whip, The Era, 11 September 1909, p. 19, accessed 20 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  58. "His Majesty's Theatre – Beethoven and A Russian Tragedy", The Telegraph, 26 November 1909, p. 12, accessed 19 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  59. "The Colonial Theatre – Mrs Patrick Campbell in a One-Act Russian play, Expiation", New York Herald, 15 February 1910, p. 7, accessed 19 April 2018 via Library of Congress
  60. "Drury Lane, The Hope", The Telegraph, 15 September 1911, p. 11, accessed 3 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  61. Michael Kennedy, Portrait of Elgar, 1st edition 1968. p.146
  62. "London Theatres – The Adelphi", The Stage, 30 May 1912, p. 18, accessed 20 May 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  63. Sealed Orders, The Era, 17 September 1913, p. 14, accessed 20 April 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  64. "Stolen Orders" Given, New York Tribune, 25 September 1915, p. 7, accessed 20 April 2018, via Library of Congress
  65. "American Film Institute, AFI Catalog of Feature Films - Stolen Orders (1918)", American Film Institute, accessed 20 April 2018
  66. "Drury Lane Drama, The Best of Luck", The Scotsman, 28 September 1916, p. 3, accessed 3 March 2018, via British Newspaper Archive (subscription required)
  67. "Capitol B'way 51 St", New-York Tribune, 3 July 1920, p. 7, accessed 20 April 2018, via Library of Congress
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.