Hamlet Hamlet Hamlet
[IRVING, Henry] [TERRY, Ellen] [STOKER, Bram]


London: N.p., 1879

Single folded sheet, 215 x 165mm, printed in red. Ownership signature to front panel, some faint fold creases, the whole a little darkened and with some light chipping to leading edge.

Commemorative programme for a performance of Hamlet, starring Henry Irving, given at the Lyceum Theatre, London, on 24 February 1879, issued to mark the final performance of the career of William Chippendale (who was playing Polonius). The production also starred Ellen Terry as Ophelia.

A benefit performance, marked by as such by the programme, which reads: 'This Monday Evening, February 24th 1879, is set apart for the FAREWELL APPEARANCE OF MR. CHIPPENDALE. The entire receipts will be given to Mr. Chippendale, who, after a career of sixty-eight years upon the Stage, will on this occasion bid good-bye to the public he has so faithfully served. The Ladies and Gentlemen of the Dramatic Company of the Lyceum have on this occasion one and all gracefully tendered their services. At the conclusion of the Performance Mr. Chippendale will say a few words.' William Chippendale [1801-1888] had begun his career as a child actor in 1810, and over a career spanning nearly seventy years also found the time to father twenty-three children.

Henry Irving [1838-1905] had first played Hamlet in 1874, to great acclaim (and with Chippendale as Polonius). The management of the Lyceum Theatre passed to Irving from the family of the American impresario H.L. Bateman on 31 August 1878, and this new production of the play was his first in the theatre he would make famous over the twenty-three years he would spend as its star. Irving's Ophelia was played by his Lyceum business partner, Ellen Terry -- she would go on to play seven of Shakespeare's heroines at the Lyceum.

The Acting Manager of the Lyceum under Irving at this time -- name-checked on this programme's final leaf -- was Bram Stoker. Eighteen years later Stoker would write Dracula. He worked with Irving as his Personal Assistant and Front of House Manager from 1876 until Irving's death in 1905, and his two-volume Personal Reminiscences of Henry Irving was published the following year.

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