Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BOUCICAULT, Dion, British dramatist, born in Dublin, Ireland, 26 December 1822. He is the son of a French merchant in Dublin, and was educated for a civil engineer under his guardian, Dr. Dionysius Lardner, of the University of London, but devoted himself to the drama. In March 1841, he produced the comedy " London Assurance," which was brought out in Covent Garden theatre, and met with great success. He married Agnes Robertson, and in September 1853, came to the United States, delivered lectures in New York, and then returned to the stage. In 1860 he went to London and brought out, at the Adelphi theatre, his famous Irish play of "Colleen Bawn," founded on Gerald Griffin's novel of" The Collegians." In 1861 was produced, in the same theatre, a drama illustrating the evils of American slavery, called "The Octoroon." After that he wrote, in rapid succession, more than 100 dramas, some of them original, and others adaptations from the French. In 1862 he brought out " Dot" and "The Relief of Lucknow"; in 1863, "The Trial of El fie Deans"; in 1864, "The Streets of London "; in 1865, "Arrah-Na-logue," "Rip Van Winkle," which was rendered famous by the acting of Joseph Jefferson, and "The Parish Clerk," which last piece was written for Mr. Jefferson; in 1866, "The Flying Scud," "Hunted Down," and "The Long Strike "; in 1867, "How She Loves Him" and "Foul Play," the latter written in collaboration with Charles Reade ; in 1868, "After Dark" ; in 1869, "Lost at Sea" and "Formosa" ; in 1870, "The Rapparee," or the "Treaty of Limerick," and "Jezebel" ; in 1872, "Babil and Bijou." In the autumn of 1874 he returned to the United States, where, since 1876, he has resided most of the time. In 1873 he produced, at Booth's theatre, New York, the Irish play of "Daddy O'Dowd" ; at Wallack's theatre, "Nora " and "Mimi," and at the Union square theatre, " Led Astray." In December 1873, he opened the New Park theatre in partnership with William Stuart. During his former residence in the United States he had established a theatre in Washington in 1858, and reconstructed the Metropolitan theatre in New York, changed it into the Winter Garden in 1859, and in 1862, after his return to England, he built over Astley's theatre and altered its name to the Westminster, a speculation that proved a failure. Of his other plays the best-known are " Janet's Pride" ; "Louis XI. " ; "Faust and Marguerite" ; "Paul Lafarge" (1870);"A Dark Nights Work" (1870) "The Dead Secret" (1878): " Andy Blake," and " The Shaughraun" Mr. Boucicault excels as a dramatist in brightness of dialogue, dramatic action, and the treatment of incidents. His melodramas are more natural than those that preceded them. He elevated and improved the character of the Irish drama. The plots of his plays are seldom original ; but in the drawing of character, the introduction and handling of dramatic incidents, and the composition of scenes of pathos, passion, or humor, he displays originality, knowledge of human nature, and dramatic judgment. He has elevated the status of the dramatic author by insisting on higher rates of compensation than were usual, and by making the play itself the leading attraction.
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