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Shakespeare & Beyond

David Garrick and the cult of bardolatry

David Garrick in Romeo and Juliet
David Garrick in Romeo and Juliet
David Garrick in Romeo and Juliet

David Garrick and George Anne Bellamy in Romeo and Juliet. Based on a painting by Benjamn Wilson engraved by Ravenet. Enamel, ca. 1765. Folger Shakespeare Library.

[Editor’s Note: A version of this text first appeared in Infinite Variety: Exploring the Folger Shakespeare Library, edited by Esther Ferington, ©2002 Folger Shakespeare Library.]

The leading actor-manager of the 1700s, David Garrick revolutionized English theatre with a lively, naturalistic acting style that held audiences spellbound. In three decades at the Drury Lane Theatre, Garrick offered an abundance of Shakespeare’s plays, relieved of the stilted acting and wholesale reworking of the past.


David Garrick’s homage to Shakespeare is very moving to say the least; the artifact(s) equally “happily” enjoyed! This great actor would have happily portrayed our modern day Shakespearean characters, I.e., The Donald &’Bernie! There must lie buried somewhere, the equally talented actors that portrayed the sinister (Clintonesque) characters!!!! To a beloved Bard, et al.

Norma Luffy — March 11, 2016

[…] 06]. This heavily annotated copy belonged to David Garrick, the 18th-century actor-manager who helped cement Shakespeare’s popularity. This prompt copy was part of his 1734 production of the […]

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