Junius Brutus Booth
1796 - 1852
British actor Junius Booth made his American debut in 1821, playing Richard III. Audiences admired his passion and intensity; Walt Whitman called him "the grandest historian of modern times"; and Mrs. John Drew called his acting "beautiful; he made the figure stand before you! It was infinitely tender." In his New York debut, one critic admired his open, expressive face, "well adapted to display the workings of a distorted mind." Booth carefully chose roles that he felt suited his relatively small, lean frame. In addition to Richard III, he often played Iago, Hamlet, Shylock, and Macbeth. Personal sorrow, including an unhappy marriage and the death of two children, led to Booth's emotional instability and alcoholism, but audiences never lost their affection for him. At the end of his career, some critics insisted that he had reached new heights of grandeur when he was most troubled. Booth died on a Mississippi riverboat, while on tour.

See Edwin Booth and his daughter, Edwina

Mathew Brady Studio Daguerreotype, circa 1850
14 x 10.8 cm (5 1/2 x 4 1/4 inches) unframed; 17.8 x 15.3 cm (7 x 6 inches) matted
Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.