Edwin Booth, 1833-1893
and his daughter Edwina
Mathew Brady Studio
Albumen silver print,
(carte de visite),1864
National Portrait Gallery,
According to one historian, "No actor of his time so completely filled the eye, the ear and the mind with the ideal of romantic tragedy as Edwin Booth." Another called his acting "a spell from which you can not escape." The son of Shakespearean actor Junius Brutus Booth, and named for Edwin Forrest, Edwin Booth had little in common with his forebears. Where they had been loud and bombastic, Booth used a subtle, psychological approach to character. In 1863, he brought modern Shakespeare to the American stage, using full, accurate scripts for the first time. That year he performed Hamlet for one hundred consecutive nights, setting a record that stood until 1923. After his brother John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln, Edwin Booth retired from the stage, but his audience soon welcomed him back. Booth had married actress Mary Devlin in 1860, and she died in 1863, leaving him with a two-year-old daughter, Edwina. Edwin and Edwina Booth posed for Brady around 1864.
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