Edwin Booth Papers

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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: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester

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.

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.
Booth's Theatre
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased from Paul C. Richards, May 22, 1979.Access
The Edwin Booth papers is open for research use. Researchers are advised to contact Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation prior to visiting. Upon arrival, researchers will also be asked to fill out a registration form and provide photo identification.Use
Reproductions are made upon request but can be subject to restrictions. Permission to publish materials from the collection must currently be requested. Please note that some materials may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the researcher's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information contact rarebks@library.rochester.eduCitation
[Item title, item date], Edwin Booth papers, D.129, Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of RochesterDigitized Materials
See: Edwin Booth Collection for digital collection of Booth's correspondence to John Russell.

Administrative Information
Author: Finding aid prepared by Rare Books and Special Collections staff
Publisher: Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation, River Campus Libraries, University of Rochester
Rush Rhees Library
Second Floor, Room 225
Rochester, NY 14627-0055

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

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