Lord Dundreary

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Edward Sothern as Lord Dundreary, sporting "Dundrearies"

Lord Dundreary is a character of the 1858 British play Our American Cousin by Tom Taylor. He is the personification of a good-natured, brainless aristocrat. The role was created on stage by Edward Askew Sothern.[1] The most famous scene involved Dundreary reading a letter from his even sillier brother. Sothern expanded the scene considerably in performance. A number of spin-off works were also created, including a play about the brother.[citation needed]

His name gave rise to two eponyms rarely heard today: Dundrearies were a particular style of facial hair taking the form of exaggeratedly bushy sideburns, also called dundreary whiskers. They were popular between 1840 and 1870 and in England were called Piccadilly weepers.[2]

"Dundrearyisms" were expanded malapropisms in the form of twisted and nonsensical aphorisms in the style of Lord Dundreary (e.g., "birds of a feather gather no moss"). These enjoyed a brief vogue.[citation needed]

Charles Kingsley wrote an essay entitled, "Speech of Lord Dundreary in Section D, on Friday Last, On the Great Hippocampus Question", a parody of debates about human and ape anatomical features (and their implications for evolutionary theory) in the form of a nonsensical speech supposed to have been written by Dundreary.[3]


  1. ^  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domainWood, James, ed. (1907). "Dundreary, Lord" . The Nuttall Encyclopædia. London and New York: Frederick Warne.
  2. ^ dundrearies, Merriam-Webster Word of the Day, August 23, 2012
  3. ^ Charles Kingsley (1861) "Speech of Lord Dundreary in Section D, on Friday Last, On the Great Hippocampus Question"
  • Michael Diamond, Victorian Sensation, London: Anthem, 2003, ISBN 1-84331-150-X, pp. 266–268