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Robert William Elliston, by George Henry Harlow (died 1819)

Robert William Elliston (7 April 1774 – 1831) was an English actor and theatre manager.

He was born in London, the son of a watchmaker. He was educated at St Paul's School, but ran away from home and made his first appearance on the stage as Tressel in Richard III at Bath in 1791. There he was later seen as Romeo, and in other leading parts, both comic and tragic, and he repeated his successes in London from 1796. He acted at Drury Lane from 1804 to 1809, and again from 1812; and from 1819 he was the lessee of the house, presenting Edmund Kean, Mme Vestris, and Macready.

He bought the Olympic Theatre in 1813 and also had an interest in a patent theatre, the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, but ill-health and misfortune culminated in his bankruptcy in 1826, when he made his last appearance at Drury Lane as Falstaff. As the lessee of the Surrey Theatre he acted almost up to his death, which was hastened by intemperance. At the Surrey, where he was the lessee first from 1806–14 and then again beginning in 1827, to avoid the patent restrictions on drama outside the West End, he presented Shakespeare and other plays accompanied by ballet music.

Leigh Hunt compared him favorably with David Garrick; Lord Byron thought him inimitable in high comedy; Macready praised his versatility.

Elliston was the author of The Venetian Outlaw (1805), and, with Francis Godolphin Waldron, of No Prelude (1803), in both of which plays he appeared.

References


1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

ROBERT WILLIAM ELLISTON (1774-1831), English actor, was born in London on the 7th of April 1774, the son of a watchmaker. He was educated at St Paul's school, but ran away from home and made his first appearance on the stage as Tressel in Richard III. at Bath in 1791. Here he was later seen as Romeo, and in other leading parts, both comic and tragic, and he repeated his successes in London from 1796. He acted at Drury Lane from 1804 to 1809, and again from 1812; and from 1819 he was the lessee of the house, presenting Kean, Mme Vestris and Macready. Ill-health and misfortune culminated in his bankruptcy in 1826, when he made his last appearance at Drury Lane as Falstaff. But as lessee of the Surrey theatre he acted almost up to his death, which was hastened by intemperance. Leigh Hunt compared him favourably with Garrick; Byron thought him inimitable in high comedy; Macready praised his versatility. Elliston was the author of The Venetian Outlaw (1805), and, with Francis Godolphin Waldron, of No Prelude (1803), in both of which plays he appeared.


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