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Barton Booth (1681 – 10 May 1733) was one of the most famous dramatic actors of the first part of the 18th century.
Booth was from Lancashire[where?] and was educated at Westminster School, where his success in the Latin play Andria gave him an inclination for the stage. He was intended for the church, and to attend Trinity College, Cambridge; but in 1698 he ran away and obtained employment in a theatrical company in Dublin, where he made his first appearance as the title character in Aphra Behn's Oroonoko.
After two seasons in Ireland he returned to London, where Thomas Betterton, who had previously failed to help him, probably out of regard for Booth's family, now gave him all the assistance in his power. At the Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre (1700–1704) he first appeared as Maximus in Valentinian, and his success was immediate. He was at the Haymarket with Betterton from 1705 to 1708, and for the next twenty years at Drury Lane. In 1713 he joint-managed the theater with Thomas Doggett, Colley Cibber, and Robert Wilks. After his death on 10 May 1733, Booth was buried in St Laurence Cowley near Uxbridge in Middlesex. His widow had a memorial to Booth placed in Westminster Abbey in 1772.
His greatest parts, after the title-part of Joseph Addison's Cato, which established his reputation as a tragedian, were probably Hotspur and Brutus. His King Lear was deemed worthy of comparison with David Garrick's. As the ghost in Hamlet he is said never to have had a superior. Among his other Shakespearian rôles were Mark Antony, Timon of Athens and Othello. He also played to perfection the gay Lothario in Nicholas Rowe's The Fair Penitent. Booth was twice married; his second wife, Hester Santlow, a noted actress, survived him. He was a "poet and acholar as well as actor, and certainly a man of genius...."
- Winter, p. 354.
- See Cibber, Lives and Characters of the most eminent Actors and Actresses (1753).
- An etext version is available at the University of Virginia
- Victor, Memoirs of the Life of Barton Booth (1733).
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Booth, Barton". Encyclopædia Britannica 4 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 238. This cites:
- Cibber, Lives and Characters of the most eminent Actors and Actresses (1753)
- Victor, Memoirs of the Life of Barton Booth (1733)
- Winter, William. Shakespeare on the Stage. New York, Moffat, Yard and Co., 1915.
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