David Garrick, Actor

The Georgian era at London produced a great galaxy of actors and from 1740 -1800 playwrights churned out tragedies and comic operas ad nauseum. Actor David Garrick (1717-1779) had great success in 1741 as Richard III and keen crowds flocked to an unfashionable East End playhouse at Goodman’s Fields to see him. The Managers of Covent Garden and Drury Lane Theatres held the only two patents for theatrical production and were so outraged at their rival’s success they used their influence to close it down. Garrick wanted to work so was forced to settle at one of the two. In 1747 he became joint-patentee at Drury Lane and from 1747 -1776 was the greatest attraction of the London stage.  Equally at home in tragedy, comedy or farce he raised the status of an actor and made the profession respectable. Audiences didn’t want to attend Shakespeare’s Hamlet but David Garrick’s Hamlet.

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