William Macready

?1755-1829; b. Dublin, son of upholsterer; author of Irishman in London (Covent Garden 1790), and Theatre Royal (Dublin 1830) with Tyrone Power; his son, W. C. Macready, was the producer in London of a play by Gerald Griffin; The Irishman in London or The Happy African (1792), a farce, had 9 productions up to 1800 and another in Dublin in 1830; The Bank Note or Lessons for Ladies (1795), an alteration of William Taverner’s Artful Husband; possibly also The Village Lawyer (1787), all farces based on those of other authors. RAF

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The Irishman in London: or, the Happy African: a farce, in Two Acts [New Edn.] (London 1793; 1799); Do. [another edn.] (Dublin: G. Perrin for the Company of Booksellers 1793), 35pp., 12o.; Do. [3rd edn.] (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme 1806), 39pp., 8o.; Do., another edn. Dublin: R. Grace 1818), and Do., [new edns.] (London 1829; 1868); 8o.; The Village Lawyer: A Farce, in Two Acts [5th edn.] (Dublin 1801; another edn. 1828); The Bank Note; or, Lessons for Ladies; A Comedy in Five Acts (London 1795; Dublin: P. Wogan 1796), 80pp., 12o.; other edns. (London 1802; 1811).

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Stephen Brown, S.J., Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin: Talbot 1912), cites William Macready, The Irishman in London (Dublin 1830), with Tyrone Power.

Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (Tralee: The Kerryman 1946), lists The Irishman In London or The Happy African, farce (Covent Gardem 21 April 1792) 1793, based on James Whitley’s The Intriguing Footman; The Bank Note or Lessons For Ladies (CG 1 May 1795) 1795, comedy based on W. Taverner’s The Artful Husband; and possibly The Village Lawyer (Haymarket , 28 Aug. 1787) 1795, farce based on L’Avocat Patelin, old French drama, though his name appeared on the printed ed., there was a report that it was the work of a Dublin dissenting minister.

J. O. Bartley, Teague, Shenkin and Sawney (Cork  UP 1954), App. IV [p.311], lists his roles: Colloony (Irishman in London 1797 et al); Connolly (School for Wives 1794); Irishman (Rosina 1795); McQuery (Way to Get Married 1796 et al); Flam (Doldrum 1795); O’Connor (St Patrick’s Day 1796); O’Finnegan (Positive Man 1796); Patrick (British Fortitude 1796).

The British Library holds The Bank Note ... Partly an alteration [of W. Taverner’s “Artful Husband”]. Title [Another copy.]   The bank note, etc. Title Third edition. Title [Another edition.]. pp. 80. P. Wogan: Dublin, 1796. 12o.. 1796.. London, 1802. 8o.. 1811; The Bank Note; or, Lessons for Ladies; a comedy in five acts [and in prose]. Partly an alteration [of W. Taverner’s “Artful Husband”].. London, 1795. 8o. ; The Irishman in London ... [By William Macready.] The third edition. Title [Another edition.]. pp. 39. Longman, Hurst, Rees, & Orme: London, 1806. 8o.; The Irishman in London, etc. Title [Another edition.] Title [Another edition.]. pp. 34. R. Grace: Dublin, 1818. 12o.. 1829.. 1868; The Irishman in London; or, the Happy African. A farce ... New edition.. pp. 45. Printed for T. N. Longman: London, 1796. 8o.. 1799. 8o.; The Irishman in London; or, the Happy African. A farce, etc. [By W. M.]; The Irishman in London: or, The happy African. A farce. In two acts, etc.. Dublin: printed by G. Perrin for the Company of Booksellers, 1793. pp. 35. 12o.; The Irishman in London: or, the Happy African: a farce, in two acts [in prose. By W. Macready], etc. Title New edition.. London, 1793. 8o.. London, 1799. 8o.; The Village Lawyer, a farce, in two acts [and in prose]. The fifth edition. Title [Another edition.]. Dublin, 1801. 8o.. 1828.

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Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English: The Romantic Period, 1789-1850 (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol 2, give bio-data: b. Dublin, son of upholsterer, and father of the great actor [W.C., supra]; professional actor, tours and Smock alley, then Liverpool and London. Acted at Covent Garden for 12 years, and became manager of provincial theatres. Three plays, The Village Lawyer, 2 act farce (1787) [Dictionary of National Biography says calls this an apocryphal ascription from a pirated edition]; also The Irishman in London, or the Happy African, 2 act farce (1792); The Bank Note, or Lessons for Ladies, 5 act com. (1795). Bibl., Alan S. Downer, The Eminent Tragedian William Ch. Macready, 1832-1851, abridged by J. C. Trewin (London: Longmans 1967) - contains interesting notes on career and financial difficulties.

Joseph Th. Leerssen, Mere Irish & Fior-Ghael: Studies in the Idea of Irish Nationality, Its Development and Literary Expression Prior To The Nineteenth Century (Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins Pub. Co. 1986), William Macready, The Bank Note (n.d. given here) has a servant Killeavy who quits his master’s service on an insult; accepts an apology, but will not resume service with him. Another servant morally superior to his master is Murtagh Delany, servant to Mr Connoolly [sic], an inveterate snob, in his Irishman in London (1793), ‘Faith, Sir, begging your pardon, I think a man does not desarve to belong to any country, that’s ashamed to own it.’ Murtagh is the servant discussed in Duggan who refuses to allow any manufactures in England to compare with the oyster beds in Poolbeg or the lying-in Hospital in Dublin, ‘they are the right sort of manufactories ... those that provide comfortable lodgings, and every sort of meat and bread, for poor craters that can’t provide for themselves.’ (Leerssen, op. cit., p.160.)

C. G. Duggan, The Stage Irishman: A History of the Irish Play and Stage Characters from the Earliest Times (Dublin: Talbot Press 1937; London: Longmans 1937; reiss. 1969), calls him an actor and the author of The Irishman in London or the Happy African (1793), ded. to Thomas Harris of Covent Garden, in a note dated 3 Mary St., Dublin, though the play did not appear on the Irish stage. It is an example of the Irishman expressly tailored to debased English taste. William Patrick O’Brien Colloony, squireen of Ballinarobe, in London, affects to hide his Irish identity; accepted as husband for Caroline by her father, Frost; but she is successfully wooed by Captain Seymour, while Colloony settles for her friend Louisa, and Murtoch, his man, marries an African brought over by the Captain; the humour is raised by the Irishman’s response to England, as a naive foreigner. After a promising start, in which he disparages the lack of impressive manufacture between Holyhead and London, the Irish element in the play deteriorates into a concoction of whiskey, bulls, and sentimental songs. ALSO, William Macready’s Bank-Note or Lessons for Ladies gives Sir Charles Leslie an Irish servant called Killeavy who has worked for an actor and has Shakespearean quotations for every circumstance. (C. G. Duggan, The Stage Irishman, 1937, p.230-1).

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