Gillette, William, 1853-1937

Alternative names
Birth 1853-07-24
Death 1937-04-29

Biographical notes:

American actor and author.

From the description of Autograph letters and cards signed (7) and typewritten letters signed (8) : Hadlyme, Conn., etc., to William H. Briggs and others at Harper & Brothers, 1927 Jan. 2-1928 May 1. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269589041

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [n.p.], to the Editor of the Hartford Courant, 1889 Feb. 12. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269575084

American actor and playwright.

From the description of To my Little Love : autograph poem unsigned : [New York], sent to Elsie Leslie, 1889 Jan. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269600608

William Gillette, playwright.

From the description of That little affair at the Boyd's: typescript, n.d. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122414935

From the description of Sherlock Holmes: typescript, 1981 September. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 86164351

Stage actor best known for playing Sherlock Holmes, and building Gillette Castle in Hadlyme, Connecticut.

From the description of William Gillette correspondence and notes, 1933-1937. (Hartford Public Library). WorldCat record id: 124514708

Actor and dramatist.

From the description of Letter of William Gillette, 1886. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79450467

William Hooker Gillette (1853-1937), the youngest child of Francis Gillette and Elizabeth Daggett Hooker, was born near Nook Farm in Hartford, Connecticut. A major force in late 19th and and early 20th century American theater, Gillette introduced many innovations including natural speech, underacting, the "fade-out," and many sound effects such a horse's hoofbeats. He wrote twenty full-length plays, mostly melodramas or farces, and starred in nine. His most famous plays were "The Professor" and "Sherlock Holmes." He performed "Holmes" 1,300 times between 1899 and 1930. In 1903, twelve different theater companies around the world simultaneously performed "Holmes." It grossed $1 .5 million during this time. Gillette's total lifetime earnings reached more than three million dollars.

Gillette married Helen Nickles (Nichols) of Detroit in Windsor, Ontario in 1882. She died tragically in 1888 of a ruptured appendix on a return trip to Hartford from a western tour of "The Professor." They had no children. Gillette never remarried. He died of pulmonary hemorrhage and is buried beside his wife at Riverside Cemetery in Farmington.

From the description of Papers, 1884-1935. (Connecticut State Library). WorldCat record id: 63167449


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  • Actors
  • Yachts
  • Drama (American)
  • Chauffeurs
  • Acting--Study and teaching
  • Correspondence
  • Dwellings
  • Portraits
  • Smoking
  • Actors--Correspondence
  • Women artists
  • Holmes, Sherlock (Fictitious character)
  • Prompt-book
  • Dramatists--Correspondence, reminiscences, etc
  • families--Correspondence
  • Deafness
  • Elocution


  • Actors
  • Dramatists


  • Connecticut--Hadlyme (as recorded)
  • Connecticut (as recorded)
  • North Carolina--Tryon (as recorded)
  • Connecticut (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)