J[ohn] W[illiam] Whitbread

Life
1847-1916 [John William Whitbread]; English theatre actor-manager and leacomm, of Queen’s Royal Theatre in Dublin, 1880-1907; 12 plays written and produced mostly at Queen’s Theatre, Dublin circa 1902, incl. Theobald Wolfe Tone, Rory O’More (after Samuel Lover), Ulster Hero, on Henry Joy McCracken; The Sham Squire, on Francis Higgins; and Sarsfield. GBI.

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Works

Chronology of first performances
Shoulder to Shoulder (Queen’s 15 Nov 1886); The Nationalist (Queen’s Th., 26 Dec. 1891); The Irishman (Queen’s Th., Aug. 1892); The Spectres of the Past or Homeless in the Streets of Dublin, burl. (Queen’s Th., Jan. 1893); The Victoria Cross (Queen’s Th., 7 Sept. 1896); Lord Edward or ’98 (Queen’s Th., 26 Dec. 1898); Rory O’More (Queen’s Th., 15 April 1900); The Ulster Hero (Queen’s Th., 12 Jan. 1902); The Insurgent Chief (Queen’s Th., 31 March 1902); The Sham Squire (Queen’s Th., 26 Dec. 1903); Sarsfield (Queen’s Th., 2 Jan. 1905); The Irish Dragoon (Queen’s Th., 25 Dec. 1905); The French Huzzar (Queen’s 24 Dec. 1906).
 
[See Peter Kavanagh, The Irish Theatre (Tralee: The Kerryman 1946).]

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Plays

Shoulder to Shoulder (1886); The Nationalist (1891) [both of these in contemp. printings]; The Irishman (1892); The Spectre of the Past, or Homeless in the Streets of Dublin (1893); The Victoria Cross (1896); Lord Edward, or ’98 (1894); Theobald Wolfe Tone (1898); Shadowed (1899); Rory O’More (1900); The Ulster Hero (1902); The Insurgent Chief (1902); The Sham Squire (1902); Sarsfield (1905; Seamus de Burca [rep.] 1987); The Irish Dragoon (1905); The French Hussar (1906).

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Criticism
Stephen M. Watt, ‘Boucicault and Whitbread: The Dublin Stage at the End of the Nineteenth Century’, in Éire-Ireland, 18 (Fall, 1983), pp.23-53; Christopher Fitz-Simon, ‘J. W. Whitbread: entrepreneur in John Bull’s other island’, and ‘True Green: Whitbread’s Irish heroes’ [chaps], in Buffoonery and East Sentiment: Popular Irish Plays in the Decade prior to the Opening of the Abbey Theatre (Carysfort Press, 2011). See also Cheryl Herr, The Land They Loved (Syracuse Press 1991) and Stephen Watt, Joyce, O’Casey, and the Popular Irish Theater (1991) [both as infra].

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Commentary
John Holloway: Holloway’s diary records of Whitbread’s management at the Queen’s Royal Theatre, in 1899: ‘Now a playgoer is sure to see an exciting well-staged drama, or an Irish play in progress if he drops into the theatre any evening casual like.’ (Nat. Lib. MS 14,995:2; see Stephen Watt, Joyce, O’Casey, and the Irish Popular Theater, Syracuse 1991).

Note: Holloway’s remarks on Whitbread’s Wolfe Tone are quoted fully in Cheryl Herr, For The Land They Loved (1991) - viz., excerpts from ‘Irish Drama and Modern Dublin’, in Irish Playgoer, 12 and 19 April 1900. Holloway became an enthusiastic supporter of the Abbey Theatre. [ftn. 39, p.244] Bibl. citees Joseph Holloway’s Irish Theatre, 3 vols. ed. Hogan and Michael J. O’Neill (Newark, Del. 1968-70).

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Cheryl Herr, The Land They Loved (Syracuse Press 1991): Introduction identifies further Whitbread plays as follows (ftn., p.66), The Soldier Priest (1915); the Mander-Mitcheson collection includes a panto., Dick Whittington, with Joseph Eldred and Augustus Wheatman (1882-83); an operatic burl., Miss Maritana, or ‘Not for Jo!’ - See? (1890) with George Nugent; a printed version of The Nationalist (1892), and Shoulder to Shoulder (1888); manuscript stories, and a play called Pat; the name attached to other stories, ‘Frank Fairfield and Colin Mabberley’, may be pseud.; the cover of Shoulder to Shoulder, identifies Whitbread as author of ‘Race for Life’; ‘The Foster Brothers’; ‘Staunch and True’, and other works.

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Stephen Watt, Joyce, O’Casey, and the Popular Irish Theater (1991): ‘Shortlived Irish Playgoer and Amusement Record, 1899-1900. James W. Whitbread, manager of Queen’s 1884-1907. Holloway recorded of his management, in 1899, “Now a playgoer is sure to see an exciting well-staged drama, or an Irish play in progress if he drops into the theatre any evening casual like”’. (Nat. Lib. MS 14,995:2) Watt gives a detailed account of his Irish plays, pp.77-86.

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References
Stephen Brown, S.J., Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin: Talbot 1912)Stephen Brown, S.J., Guide to Books on Ireland (Dublin: Talbot 1912), lists 12 plays.

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Notes
[William] Fay: Fay characterised Whitbread’s The Irishman, revived in 1899, as a ‘crude piece of unconvincing conventionalism’ (Towards a National Theatre, p. 27.) Dion Boucicault’s Irish dramas ‘nowadays used simply to show off the Irish comedian or the Irish character actor.’ (May 1900).

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