Harford History

April 02, 2006

1891: Edwin Booth's last performance

On April 4, 1891, after nearly 42 years onstage, Edwin Thomas Booth, one of the best-loved American Shakespearean actors of the last half of the 19th century, gave his final performance.

Afterward, there were so many waving admirers outside of the Brooklyn Academy of Music that police had to clear a way for Booth's carriage. Edwin Booth, famed for the role of Hamlet, was born Nov. 13, 1833, in a log farmhouse near Bel Air, where in 1822 Edwin's father, English actor Junius Brutus Booth, had established a summer home.

In the early 1850s, Junius began work on a new farmhouse on the property, known today as Tudor Hall. Despite the notoriety of his brother, John Wilkes Booth, Edwin's acting career was extremely successful. He traveled extensively throughout the United States, and toured England and Germany. He owned a theater in New York and founded the Players club for actors.

A mural in the Bel Air post office commemorates a dramatic reading that Edwin gave in the courthouse in 1851.

[ Harford Historical Bulletin Number 98, Summer 2004. Research by Harford County Library.]

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