Stanley Lathbury


Stanley Lathbury first appeared on stage in 1895 when he joined the company of Sarah Thorne at Margate; in the next two years he appeared in almost one hundred parts while still at Margate.

His career in Shakespeare began in earnest in 1909 when he was engaged by Gerald Lawrence and Fay Davis who opened their Shakespeare season on April 12 at the Royal Court Theatre, London. After that season – and many other engagements, often in the city of Birmingham—he went on to perform at Stratford-upon-Avon for thirteen years, 1920-33, in twenty different Shakespeare plays with the New Shakespearean Company. In 1927 he toured Egypt with Robert Atkins in Shakespeare repertory.

Among the parts he played over the years were Julius Caesar, Fluellen in Henry V, Pompey in Measure for Measure, and Adam in As You like It. When Leslie Howard produced and starred in Hamlet at the Imperial Theatre, New York, he chose Lathbury to play the first gravedigger. Hamlet ran for thirty-nine performances.

Lathbury also performed in ten films, the first in 1919 and the last in 1943. I am puzzled when I start reading about an actor like Lathbury whose career spanned fifty years with hundreds of performances, many of them in Shakespeare, as well as popular current productions. Names seem to fade from the records; I cannot find the year of his death, although he was still performing in films when he was seventy; his last stage appearance was in 1948. Lathbury did not play many major roles with important companies, but he worked steadily at his craft for at least seven decades, only to disappear without much notice.