Laurence Irving (dramatist)

Laurence Sydney Brodribb Irving (21 December 1871 – 29 May 1914)[1] was an English dramatist and novelist. He died along with his wife in the RMS Empress of Ireland disaster.

Life and career

Born in London, Laurence Irving was a son of the great Victorian actor manager, Sir Henry Irving and his wife Florence (née O'Callaghan), and brother to actor manager Harry Brodribb Irving. He was educated at Marlborough College and the College Rollin in Paris, following which he was in Russia for three years studying for the Foreign Office. However, instead he took up acting, making his first appearance in 1893 in F. R. Benson's theatrical company (not counting childhood performances[2]). He went on to become a dramatist.[3] Due to the financial failure of one of Laurence's plays, his father was forced to sell the Lyceum Theatre, London. Irving was married to a fellow performer, actress Mabel Lucy Hackney (1880–1914).

Laurence and Mabel were on a tour of first Australia and then North America from 1912 to 1914. Their biggest success on the tour was Laurence's own play Typhoon which was a topical play set in the time of the Russo-Japanese War, with Laurence playing a Japanese officer.

Laurence and Mabel Irving later drowned in the RMS Empress of Ireland disaster on 29 May 1914. Reports in the news accounts of the tragedy say that they got separated and Laurence was in a position of temporary safety, but he knew Mabel could not swim and he jumped back into the St. Lawrence River to rescue her. Their bodies were never found.

He is not to be confused with the son of his older brother Harry Brodribb Irving, the set-designer Laurence Irving.

See also


  1.  Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1922). "Irving, Henry Brodribb" . Encyclopædia Britannica (12th ed.). London & New York.
  2. "Music and the Drama: Irving's Vsit". The Week : a Canadian journal of politics, literature, science and arts. 1 (13): 205. 28 February 1884. Retrieved 27 April 2013.
  3. Vanity Fair magazine 'Men Of The Day' (1912)
  • Holroyd, Michael (2008): A Strange Eventful History; The Dramatic Lives of Ellen Terry, Henry Irving and their Remarkable Families; Pub. Chatto & Windus ISBN 9780701179878


  • Godefroi and Yolande: A medieval play in one act (1894)
  • "Much Ado About Nothing" (1905)
  • Typhoon (1913)

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