Robert Hitchcock

Life
?-1809; official Theatre Royal prompter and dramatic author; moved to Dublin to work at Smock Alley in 1781; his plays are The Macaroni (1773) and The Coquette (1777); also - more significantly - issued A Historical View of the Irish Stage (1788), published with 425 subscribers and reprinted in 1794; also, “An Essay on the Welfare of the Irish Stage” (1792), contrib. to Reformer; with Benjamin Victor, his ‘historical’ works are chief guides to 18th century Dublin theatre. ODNB RAF OCIL

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Commentary

Edward A. Langhans, Eighteenth Century British and Irish Promptbooks, a descriptive bibliography (Greenwood Press Connecticut, 1987), includes notices of Hitchcock the Elder and Younger, the above being ; this is “the Younger”, whose copy of Garrick’s Irish Widow is described. The performance is dated from the fact that Hitchcock left for Dublin in 1781.

Sundry: Charles Molloy, The Romance of the Irish Stage (1899) gives Hitchcock as the source of stories about Farquhar, Woffington and others. J. S. Clarke, Early Irish Stage (OUP 1956), quotes Hitchcock’s An Historical View of the Irish Stage (1788), on Ogilby and Smock Alley.

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Quotations
On Madame Violante (quoted in Sir John Gilbert, History of Dublin: ‘I never have been able [writes Hitchcock after sundry details] to obtain a complete list of the members of this little community, but from what I have collected, the names of several performers of great merit appear ... from the Polly of that day sprung the beautful, elegant, accomplished, captivating Woffington, to please and charm contending Kingdoms. This extraordinary character is a striking instance that the shining qualities of the mind, or graces of the person, are not confined to rank or birth, but are sometimes to be met with in the most unfavorable situations. ... rose to a station so celebrated as to be able to set the fashions, prescribe laws to taste; and beyond her time, present us with a lively picture of the easy well-bred woman of fashion.’ (Gilbert, op. cit., , Vol. 2., pp.319-20.)

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References
Dictionary of National Biography frequently cites Hitchcock in entries on Irish drama (as does Gilbert in History of Dublin and Fitzpatrick in Dublin, et al.).

Stephen Brown, ed., Guide to Books in Ireland (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1912), lists Historical View, 2 vols. (1788 and 1794).

Belfast Public Library holds Historical View, 2 vols. (1788 and 1794) [BELF CEN I/820].

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Notes
Prompt historians: Hitchcock and Victor (History of the theatres of London and Dublin, 1767) were both prompters at Drury Lane and Smock Alley and historians of the Irish stage, while Hitchcock’s account is the sole source of virtually all theatrical stories about Farquhar, Woffington, Sheridan, &c.

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