Charles Selby

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Charles Selby (c. 1802 – 1863) was a 19th-century English actor and playwright, and translator of many French plays (often without attribution, not uncommon at the time).

Among his works was The Marble Heart (1854), a translation of Théodore Barrière's Les Filles de marbre. The play is best known today for a 9 November 1863 performance in Washington, D.C., where President Abraham Lincoln watched John Wilkes Booth, playing the villain Raphael. Booth directed some of his threatening lines directly to Lincoln, causing one of Lincoln's party to remark "he looks as if he meant that for you." Lincoln agreed, noting "he does look pretty sharp at me, doesn't he?"[1][2][3]

Selby died at his home in Covent Garden, London, on 21 March 1863 and buried at Kensal Green Cemetery.[2]

Selected works (incomplete)[edit]

  • The Unfinished Gentleman (1834)
  • Robert Macaire (1834) (adaptation of Frédérick Lemaître play)
  • Maximums and Speciments of William Muggins (book) (1841)
  • Barnaby Rudge (1841) (adaptation of Charles Dickens novel with Charles Melville)
  • Boots and the Swan (1842)
  • Antony and Cleopatra (1842) (translation from French)
  • The Marble Heart (1854) (translation of Les Filles de marbre)
  • The Dinner Question (cookbook) (1860), as "Tabitha Tickletooth"[4]
  • Peggy Green (1847) comic drama


  1. ^ (30 December 2013). The Lincolns and the Booths, The New York Times
  2. ^ a b  Lee, Sidney, ed. (1897). "Selby, Charles". Dictionary of National Biography. 51. London: Smith, Elder & Co. pp. 209–210. 
  3. ^ Charles Selby (circa 1802-1863), Actor and dramatist, National Portrait Gallery
  4. ^ Kapoor, Sybil (7 August 1999). Food & Drink: Cook Book of the Week, The Independent

External links[edit]