Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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HARRISON, Gabriel, dramatic author, born in Philadelphia, 25 March, 1825. When he was six years old his father, a man of classical education and a bank note engraver, removed to New York, where his house soon became a favorite resort of the literary people and artists of the city. The son's love of dramatic art was determined by witnessing Edwin Forrest at the Park theatre in 1832. He soon became a member of the American histrionic society, and in November, 1838, made his first public appearance at Wallack's national theatre, Washington, D. C., as Othello. In 1841, two years after Daguerre's discovery, Mr. Harrison produced pictures by the former's process which won the inventor's warmest praise, and which took various prize medals. They were remarkable for their tone, and of a size that had been previously untried. He became a member of the Park theatre. New York, in 1845, being a favorite support of Charles Kean in his Shakespearian revivals, and in 1851 he organized the Brooklyn dramatic academy, a private association. He was manager of the Adelphi theatre, Troy, New York, in 1859, and in 1863 opened the Park theatre, Brooklyn, New York, where he successfully organized an English opera troupe. But his high ideal of every detail connected with the setting and production of pieces upon the stage was a source of financial disaster to him, and he finally retired from the practice of his profession. He was afterward for a time lessee and manager of the Brooklyn academy of music. In 1867, as corresponding secretary of the Brooklyn academy of design, he raised the funds to pay its debts, and brought its free art schools to a state of great prosperity. In 1872 he was one of the chief organizers of the Faust club of Brooklyn, and to his efforts that city is largely indebted for the fine bronze bust of John Howard Payne that was placed by the club in Prospect park. Mr. Harrison has done some good work as an artist, both in landscape and portraiture, including a picture of Edwin Forrest as Coriolanus. He is now (1887), after many years of nervous prostration, a teacher of elocution and acting in Brooklyn. He has published "The Life and Writings of John Howard Payne" (Albany, 1873), and various pieces for the stage, including a dramatization of Hawthorne's "Scarlet Letter" (privately printed, 1876), which was successfully put upon the stage in February, 1878; "Melanthia," a tragedy, written for Matilda Heron; "The Author"; "Dart-more"; "The Thirteenth Chime;" and "Magna," besides an adaptation to the English stage of Schiller's "Fiesco" and "Don Carlos." He is the author of the critical essays on Forrest's acting, in Alger's life of that actor, of whom he was a warm personal friend and admirer, and has contributed poetry to the public press. His latest work is the chapter on "The Progress of Drama, Music, and the Fine Arts in Brooklyn" in the "History of Kings County" (New York, 1884).
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