Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852

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Junius Brutus Booth (1 May 1796 – 30 November 1852) was a 19th century English stage actor. He was the father of actor John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. His other children included Edwin Booth, the foremost tragedian of the mid-to-late 19th century, Junius Brutus Booth Jr., an actor and theatre manager, and Asia Booth Clarke, a poet and writer.

Booth was born in St. Pancras, London, Great Britain, the son of Richard Booth, a lawyer and avid supporter of the American cause, and Jane Elizabeth Game. In August 1814, Junius met Marie Christine Adelaide Delannoy while boarding at her mother's home in Brussels. She followed him to London where they eventually married on 17 May 1815, soon after his 19th birthday. Their first child, Amelia Portia Adelaide Booth, was born 4 months, 2 weeks and 4 days later, on October 5, 1815, but died July 7, 1816. Their only child to survive infancy was Richard Junius Booth (1819–1868).

Booth’s interests in theatre came after he attended a production of Othello at the Covent Garden Theatre. He displayed a talent for acting from an early age, deciding on a career in the theatre by the age of 17. He performed roles in several small theatres throughout England, and joined a tour of the Low Countries in 1814, returning the following year to make his London debut.

Booth gained national renown in England with his performance in the title role of Richard III in 1817 at the Covent Garden Theatre. Critics compared his performances favorably with those of Edmund Kean, who was at the time the foremost tragedian in Britain, with whom he soon had a rivalry.

In 1821, Booth emigrated to the United States with Mary Ann Holmes, leaving his wife and their young son. Booth and Holmes claimed to be married that year and settled in 1822 near Bel Air, Maryland. Booth was quickly hired to play Richard III. In less than a year, Booth became the most prominent actor in the United States. He embarked upon a 30-year acting career that made him famous throughout the country. Booth traveled to Baltimore, Boston, and New York. He toured England as an actor and enjoyed a career in theater in the United States, but relied on the support of his partner and grandson Edwin while working to avoid persistent problems with alcoholism and ensuing violence on and off stage.

His son Richard from his first marriage had also emigrated to the United States, and Booth tricked Richard into believing he lived alone for several years. Upon the discovery of this truth, Adelaide Booth traveled to the United States, where she resided until she was able to obtain a divorce.On 10 May 1851, with the youngest of their 10 children now 11 years of age, Booth finally legally married Mary Ann Holmes. He continued to tour, including a tour in California ruined by torrential rains, and died on November 30, 1852 on a steamboat from New Orleans to Chicago, likely from impure drinking water.

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Booth-Grossman family. Booth-Grossman family papers, 1840-1953. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Aloysius I. Mudd collection, 1800-1919 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894,. Autograph letters signed and initialled from Oliver Wendell Holmes to various people [manuscript], 1880-1893. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Booth-Grossman family papers, 1840-1953 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
referencedIn The Robert Cushman Butler Collection of Theatrical Illustrations Washington State University Libraries Manuscripts, Archives, and Special Collections (MASC)
referencedIn Owens, Mary C. Stevens (Mary Cornelia Stevens), 1828-1913,. Autograph letters signed from Mary Cornelia Owens, Baltimore, to various recipients [manuscript], 1893-1897. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Crawford, Jack Randall, b. 1878. Crawford Theater collection, 1663-1992 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Winter, William, 1836-1917,. Autograph letters signed to William Winter from various correspondents [manuscript], 1892-1893. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Simpson, Edmund Shaw, 1784-1848. Diary of Edmund Shaw Simpson [manuscript], 1818. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Copy of extract from Evening True Sun commenting on Mr. Booth's performance of Richard III at Drury Lane Theatre, November 21, 1836 [manuscript], [19th century?]. Folger Shakespeare Library
creatorOf Chambers, W. B., Mrs. Letter to Junius Brutus Booth, 1817. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852,. Autograph letter signed from Junius Brutus Booth, London, to R.W. Elliston [manuscript], 1817 April 17. Folger Shakespeare Library
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852. Autograph signature of Junius Brutus Booth [manuscript], 1836. Folger Shakespeare Library
creatorOf Kimball, Moses, 1809-1895. Letters received, 1840-1878. Boston Athenaeum
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852. Junius Brutus Booth family collection, 1828-1953. Library of Congress
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852,. Autograph letters signed from Junius Brutus Booth to various people [manuscript], 1816?-1817. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn James Young papers, 1904-1948 The New York Public Library. Billy Rose Theatre Division.
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852. ALS : to Thomas Sowerby Hamblin, [1833?] Apr. 15. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Sarony, Napoleon, 1821-1896. 19th century actors carte de visite collection, 1860-1885 [graphic]. University of Washington Libraries
referencedIn Booth, Edwin, 1833-1893. Papers of Edwin Booth [manuscript], ca. 1869-ca. 1893. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn 19th Century Actors Carte de Visite Collection, 1860-1885 University of Washington Libraries Special Collections
referencedIn Scrapbook of material relating to Junius Brutus Booth [manuscript], 1815-1876. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Wood, William B., 1779-1861. Promptbooks for productions of Shakespeare's King Lear, 1756-1927. Houghton Library
referencedIn Henneke, Ben Graf, 1914-. Theatre Ephemera collection, 1762-1981. The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library
referencedIn Wheeler, Roger,. Theatrical memorabilia, 1770-1940. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852. ALS, 1834 May 24, Albany, N.Y., to David Paul Brown, Philadelphia. Rosenbach Museum & Library
referencedIn Ludlow, Noah Miller, 1795-1886. Papers of Noah Miller Ludlow, 1810-1896 (inclusive), 1835-1885 (bulk). Harvard University, Harvard Theater Collection, Harvard College Library
referencedIn Booth, Edwin, 1833-1893,. Autograph letter signed from Edwin Booth to William A. Baker [manuscript], 1872 October 20. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Autograph File, B, ca.1500-1976. Houghton Library
referencedIn Miscellaneous documents relating to Abraham Lincoln, ca. 1838-1948. Houghton Library
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852. Junius Brutus Booth account book, 1817-1822. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Kimes, William Harold, 1936-. Booth collection 1969-2003. Hamline University Libraries, CLIC
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852,. Autograph letters signed and unsigned from Junius Brutus Booth to various people [manuscript], 1815-1851. Folger Shakespeare Library
referencedIn Svich, Caridad. The Booth variations : a solo / by Caridad Svich and Todd Cerveris. Ohio State University Libraries
creatorOf Moncrieff, W. T. (William Thomas), 1794-1857. Eleven players' parts for The lear of private life by W.T. Moncrieff [manuscript], ca. 1830. Folger Shakespeare Library
creatorOf Junius Brutus Booth account book, 1817-1822 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Crawford Theater collection, 1663-1992 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
referencedIn Young, James, b. 1878. James Young papers, 1904-1948. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Junius Brutus Booth collection, [19--?-ongoing]. Museum of Performance & Design
referencedIn Booth family. Booth family papers, 1820-1890. The University of Tulsa, McFarlin Library
referencedIn Belknap Collection for the Performing Arts. Belknap Collection, Theatre 1816-1995 1825-1889 : Booth family. University of Florida
creatorOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1796-1852,. Autograph letter signed from Junius Brutus Booth, London, to J. Mitchell, London [manuscript], 1816? November 8 Friday. Folger Shakespeare Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Aldridge, Henry, fl. 1836. person
associatedWith Blyth, Thomas, fl. 1815-1851. person
associatedWith Booth, Edwin, 1833-1893, person
associatedWith Booth family. person
associatedWith Booth family. family
associatedWith Booth-Grossman family family
associatedWith Booth-Grossman family. family
parentOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1821-1883 person
grandparentOf Booth, Junius Brutus, 1868-1912 person
correspondedWith Booth, Richard, 1762 or 3-1839 person
grandparentOf Booth, Sydney Barton, 1873-1937 person
associatedWith Brown, David Paul, 1795-1872. person
associatedWith Chambers, W. B., Mrs. person
associatedWith Clarke, Robert, of the Theatre Royal, Liverpool, fl. 1836. person
associatedWith Crawford, Jack Randall, b. 1878. person
correspondedWith Elliston, R. W. (Robert William), 1774-1831 person
correspondedWith Flynn, Thomas, 1798-1849 person
associatedWith Hamblin, Thomas Sowerby, 1800-1853. person
associatedWith Harris, H., fl. 1815-1851, person
associatedWith Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 1809-1894, person
associatedWith Kimball, Moses, 1809-1895. person
associatedWith Ludlow, Noah Miller, 1795-1886. person
correspondedWith Mitchell, J., 19th cent. person
correspondedWith Mitchell, J., fl. 1816 person
associatedWith Moncrieff, W. T. (William Thomas), 1794-1857. person
associatedWith Mudd, Aloysius I. (Aloysius Ignatius), 1844- person
associatedWith Notrebe, Eugene. person
associatedWith Owens, Mary C. Stevens (Mary Cornelia Stevens), 1828-1913, person
correspondedWith Pennington, J., fl. 1815-1851 person
associatedWith Rush, James, 1786-1869. person
associatedWith Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. person
associatedWith Simpson, Edmund Shaw, 1784-1848. person
associatedWith Svich, Caridad. person
associatedWith Tyrer, Thomas, fl. 1815-1851. person
correspondedWith Wemyss, Francis Courtney, 1797-1859 person
associatedWith Wheeler, Roger, person
associatedWith Winter, William, 1836-1917, person
associatedWith Young, James, b. 1878 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
England ENG GB
United States 00 US
Subject
Theater--History--19th century
Theater--United States--History--19th century
Actors
Theater--Great Britain--History--19th century
Dueling
Theatrical managers
Occupation
Actors
Activity

Person

Birth 1796-05-01

Death 1852-11-30

Information

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