Edwin Booth Papers

Other Views:  PDF  |  EADNote: You may browse using the navigation on the left, or use Ctrl-F to search within this finding aid.

Collection Overview
Title: Edwin Booth Papers
Creator: Booth, Edwin, 1833-1893
Call Number: D.129
Dates: 1864-1881
Physical Description: 1 box
Language(s): Materials are in English
Repository: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation

Biographical/Historical Note
Edwin Booth (1833-1893) was the son of Junius Brutus Booth (1796-1852), an English actor who emigrated to the United States in 1821. Edwin was born on the Booth farm near BelAir Maryland. He was educated in the local private schools and also accompanied his father on theatrical tours from the age of thirteen.

He made his theatrical debut in 1849 in Boston in a small part in Richard III, and in the two years following played juvenile parts in his father's productions. He accompanied his father to California in July 1852, where they acted in San Francisco and Sacramento under the Management of Junius Brutus Booth Jr. The elder J.B. Booth started to return to Maryland, but died on the way. Edwin Booth stayed in the west and toured the mining towns and acted in his brother's company in San Francisco. He stayed in California until 1856, interrupted by a tour of Australia in 1854. After he returned east, he toured the south, acted in Boston and New York, and toured again in the west and south.

Edwin Booth married Mary Devlin in 1860. In 1861 they sailed to England, where he appeared in London, Liverpool and Manchester in rather unsuccessful engagements. Their daughter, Edwnia was born on December 9, 1861.

They returned to New York where Booth acted at the Winter Garden until his wife's sudden death in February 1863. He temporarily retired from the stage, returning to undertake the management of the Winter Garden in September 1863. Booth's management of the Winter Garden was interrupted by his brother's assassination of Lincoln in April 1865. He returned to it in January 1866, but the theatre burned in March 1867. To replace the Winter Garden he built Booth's theatre in New York, which opened February 3, 1869. The financial panic of 1873-74 forced him to withdraw in 1873 and in 1874 he became bankrupt. For the rest of his career he toured the United States, the British Isles and Europe without having a permanent theatre home.

In June 1869, he married his leading lady, Mary McVicker. She retired from the stage and delivered their son, Edgar who died soon afterwards on July 3, 1870. Mary McVickar contracted tuberculosis and died insane in 1881. Booth's final performance was in Hamlet, April 4, 1891 in Brooklyn. He died June 7, 1893.

Biographical information:

Dictionary of American Biography

Ruggles, Eleanor. Prince of Players.

Lockridge, Richard. Darling of Misfortune; Edwin Booth: 1833-1893.

Kimmel, Stanley. The Mad Booths of Maryland.

The EDWIN BOOTH PAPERS is open for research use. Researchers are advised to contact the Rare Books Special Collections & Preservation Department prior to visiting. Upon arrival, researchers will also be asked to fill out a registration form and provide photo identification.

In consultation with a curator, reproductions may be made upon request. Permission to publish materials from the collection must be requested from a curator. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions.

Scope and Content
The collection consists of 54 letters written by Edwin Booth to John E. Russell during the years 1864 to 1881, concerning acting, theatre critics, Booth's theatre and family and social matters. John Russell was a theatre critic and journalist, who appears to have written for the New York Sun as well as other papers. He lived in Leicester, Massachusetts, but appears to have been in New Orleans in 1870.

Booth, Edwin, 1833-1893
Russell, John E.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased from Paul C. Richards, May 22, 1979.

(Name of item, if applicable), EDWIN BOOTH PAPERS, 1864-1881. Dept. of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester.

Administrative Information
Author: Finding aid prepared by Rare Books and Special Collections staff
Publisher: Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055
URL: http://www.library.rochester.edu/rbscp

Content List
Box 1: Correspondence, Edwin Booth to John E. Russell
Folder 1:
March 24, 1864 April 21, 1864 Sept. 27, [1867] Jan. 24, 1868 Feb. 12, 1868 Nov. 19, [1868] Nov. 29, 1868
Folder 2:
March 17, 1869 June 22, [1869] Aug. 22, 1869 Aug. 17, 186- March 17, [1870] April 2, 1870 July 4, 1870 July 19, [1870] Sept. 29, 1870
Folder 3:
Feb. 12, 1871 June 19, 1871 Aug. 2, 1871 Nov. 1, 1871 Nov. 3, 1871 Nov. 15, 1871 Nov. 18, 1871 Dec. 10, 1871 Feb. 5, 1872
Folder 4:
Oct. 14, 1873 Oct. 17, 1873 Oct. 22, 1873 Nov. 9, 1873 Nov. 28, 1873 Dec. 14, 1873
Folder 5:
Jan. 23, 1874 Feb. 19, 1874 April 29, 1874 May 29, 1874 June 3, 1874 June 22, 1874 Dec. 1, 1874
Folder 6:
March 2, 1875 March 17, 1875 March 24, 1875 April 25, 1875 May 10, 1875 Oct. 5, 1875 Oct. 8, 1875 Sept. 16, 1877 [1879] Dec. 4, 1881
Folder 7: Undated letters (7)
Folder 8: Photocopies of select letters
Folder 9: Autographed print of Edwin Booth, 1892

Other Views:  PDF  |  EAD