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Junius Brutus Booth Remembered



Author Nora Titone's Highlights from the Booth Collection at the Folger


 


Newspaper article about Junius Brutus Booth’s acting and stature.

From a scrapbook carefully maintained by a Booth family friend, comes a newspaper article rhapsodizing about the genius—and tiny stature—of Edwin and John Wilkes’s father.

 

Junius Brutus Booth was a brilliant actor who struggled with suicidal episodes and a crippling addiction to alcohol, casting a shadow over his sons’ lives. He was the first to make the Booth name both famous and infamous: in the course of his meteoric career, Junius embraced adultery, fathered ten illegitimate children, subscribed to Hinduism, preached animal rights and practiced vegetarianism. In antebellum America, these were heretical acts.  Yet the wreck that drinking made of Booth’s stage reputation, as this article tactfully mentions, was one of the hardest burdens his family bore.

 

“…As an Actor, Mr. Booth stands at the head of his profession, and is universally acknowledged to be the best performer at the present day in either Europe or America…it has often been remarked by Members of the profession that his very littleness is lost sight of in the natural and splendid exhibition of his performances…It is said that Mr. Booth’s performances are not, at the present day, imbued with the soul-stirring spirit and energy which they formerly partook of, and that both his physical and mental powers have greatly failed him. It is to be hoped that the infirmities of his genius have not yet deprived the stage of [his] transcendent talents.”


 

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