Lyall Swete

(1865-1930) Edward Lyall Swete was born in 1865 in Cheshire, England. He played in productions of Shakespeare on both sides of the Atlantic, appearing as Polonius in H.B. Irving‘s 1904 Hamlet (shown here), and earlier in at least two productions of Richard II (1896 and 1901) at Sir Frank Benson‘s Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Swete served as set designer for one of them. He played the Duke of York in the first and John of Gaunt in the second.Read more

Nina de Silva

(1868-1949) Born Angelita Helena Margarita de Silva Ferro, Nina de Silva was known by the stage-name N. de Silva. Her first stage appearance was as a page in Sir Henry Irving‘s 1882 production of Much Ado About Nothing. She married Sir Martin Harvey and played in his company when he was based at the Lyceum in London in 1899. De Silva played in Hamlet as Ophelia, Richard III as Lady Anne, The Taming of the Shrew as Katerina, and inRead more

Frederick Ross

Frederick Ross began his career as a medical student, but he was lured by the stage and made his first professional appearance in 1898. His first part in Shakespeare came in 1907 when he played Friar Laurence in Matheson Lang‘s production of Romeo & Juliet. The next year he played the ghost in Hamlet, and in 1909 Lord Hastings in Richard III. Five years later in 1914 he played Sir Richard Vernon in Henry IV at His Majesty’s Theatre. After a briefRead more

Irene Rooke

(1878-1958) Irene Rooke first appeared on stage in 1895; after she joined Ben Greet’s company she had the opportunity to play a number of roles in Shakespeare: Viola, Ophelia, Perdita, Miranda, Desdemona, Hero, and Rosalind. She played in London for the first time in 1897 as Ophelia opposite Edward Gordon Craig’s Hamlet at the Olympic Theatre. Rooke did not return to Shakespeare until 1910 when she played Viola for Miss Horniman at Manchester’s Gaiety Theatre; she played Viola again inRead more

George Relph

(1888-1960) Few now know his name, but George Relph’s career spanned over half a century and among his many stage appearances, twenty of them were in Shakespeare’s plays in some of the best theaters in London and Australia. His first role as a professional was a minor one in Othello; his first London appearance in 1909 was at the Lyceum as Marcellus in Hamlet. That same year he joined Oscar Asche and Lily Brayton on their Australian tour and thereRead more

Dennis Neilson-Terry

(1895-1932) Younger brother of Phyllis Neilson-Terry. Nephew of Dame Ellen Terry. Son of Julia Neilson and Fred Terry. Dennis was born into the legendary acting family and had big shoes to fill from day one. He made his stage debut in the 1906 jubilee celebrations for his aunt, Ellen, as a page in Much Ado About Nothing. Under the stage name “Derrick Dennis,” he made his next appearance as Silvius in As You Like It (1911). After this, he spent time withRead more

Ernest Milton

(1890-1974) Ernest Gianello Milton, who was born in 1890 in San Francisco, played most of the major roles in Shakespeare’s plays with a number of Shakespearean companies such as the Old Vic (1918) and the Royal Shakespeare Company (1962). Early in his career he played Romeo and Bassanio, but it was in 1918 when he joined the Old Vic that he concentrated primarily on parts in Shakespeare. His last role was in 1960 when he played the Ghost and theRead more

Henry B. Irving

(1870-1919) Henry Brodribb Irving was the first son of Sir Henry Irving; he used the stage name “H. B.” to distinguish himself from his illustrious father. In 1894, the same year he was called to the Bar, Inner Temple, he chose the theater as a profession and was continuously employed from then on as an actor. He acted in his father’s company, and served several times as an actor-manager in the London theaters. For a short period, he took overRead more

Sir John Martin-Harvey

(1863-1944) Sir John Martin-Harvey, one of the most popular actors of his time, had a long and successful career of more than forty years on the stage. He first appeared in 1881 and then the next year joined the troupe of Sir Henry Irving with whom he stayed until 1896. He played in at least nine Shakespeare plays, but usually in fairly minor roles. Not until 1899 and a year with Sir Johnston Forbes-Robertson in 1897 did he begin playingRead more

Walter Hampden

(1879-1956) Walter Hampden Dougherty was born in New York City, but he began his stage career in England where he learned his craft as a player in Frank Benson‘s company. He returned to New York in 1907, where he became identified with a number of Shakespeare roles: Shylock, Hamlet, Othello, Oberon, Macbeth, and Romeo. In 1925, he acquired the Colonial Theatre in New York and renamed it Hampden’s Theatre, and there he established a repertory theatre that included the playsRead more