Ira Aldridge

Ira Aldridge

Performing Shakespeare in Europe, 1852-1855

Bernth Lindfors

Personal eBook

University of Rochester Press



This book describes the "glory years" of Ira Aldridge's first Continental tour, during which he won more awards and honors, often conferred by royalty, than any other actor of his day.
Ira Aldridge: Performing Shakespeare in Europe, 1852-1855, the third volume of Bernth Lindfors's award-winning biography, traces the American-born black classical actor's itinerary on his first Continental tour. Starting in Brussels and following Aldridge up the Rhine to Basel, on to Berlin and Vienna, and cities in Prussia and Hungary, Lindfors recounts the major performances and analyzes audience responses to them.
Because European audiences wanted to see this "African" actor in Shakespearean roles rather than in the melodramas and farces that were popular in Britain, Aldridge concentrated almost exclusively on performing as Othello, Shylock, Macbeth, and Richard III. He performed the roles in English even when acting with local companies who spoke in German, Hungarian, or another European language. Aldridge's impressive manner of interpreting these characters won him many honors, awards, and medals, some bestowed by heads of state or by national academies. Drawing on myriad reviews, playbills, and letters, many of them penned by Aldridge himself, Lindfors examines in detail Aldridge's interpretations of these timeless characters and shows why these were Aldridge's glory years.

Bernth Lindfors, professor emeritus of English and African Literatures, University of Texas at Austin, is the author of Ira Aldridge: The Early Years, 1807-1833 and Ira Aldridge: The Vagabond Years, 1833-1852, both published by the University of Rochester Press in 2011.


21 black and white illustrations
362 pages
9x6 in
Rochester Studies in African History and the Diaspora
Personal eBook, 9781580468329, December 2013
Hardback, 9781580464727, December 2013
Library eBook
University of Rochester Press
BISAC PER011020, SOC001000, BIO005000
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Table of Contents

Making Up a Company
Navigating up the Rhine
Moving into the Interior
On to Vienna
Hungarian Rhapsodies
Comparisons and Contrasts
Personal and Personnel Matters
Hungarian Rap Sheet
Prussia, Germany, Switzerland
Homeward Bound
Interpreting Shakespeare
Further Travels
Selected Bibliography


Winner of the Theatre Library Association's 2015 George Freedley Award Special Jury Prize

As a meticulously researched study with superb supplementary materials, Lindfor's book is a very valuable historical resource. THEATRE SURVEY

The third volume of Bernth Lindfor's estimable multi-volume biography of Aldridge provides an in-depth, thoroughly researched account of Alridge's 1852-1855 Continental tour. NEW THEATRE QUARTERLY

Recommended. CHOICE

Bernth Lindfors's Aldridge series is a breathtaking and ambitious project of both superlative scholarship and the utmost historical importance, written in a precise, fluent, and charming style that is straightforward and authoritative. In Ira Aldridge: Performing Shakespeare in Europe, 1852-1855, Lindfors provides much new information on topics such as Aldridge's character, acting style, use of gesture and voice, performance strategies, and ideological disposition that will become anchoring reference points for future scholarship. --Colin Chambers, author of Black and Asian Theatre in Britain: A History

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