Irving, Sir Henry

Actor, born John Henry Brodribb at Keinton Mandeville, Som. on 6 February 1838. His mother was from a Cornish Methodist family. His parents moved to London when he was 4 and he was brought up by an aunt, Sarah Penberthy, at Halestown, near St. Ives in Cornwall. She and her husband were Methodists and teetotalers, and their influence on the future actor persisted, alongside his early histrionic leanings. When he joined his parents in London, his father encouraged this interest in the theatre, despite his mother's misgivings. He went on to become the leading figure in the late Victorian theatre, adopting his stage name in 1854, possibly to avoid embarrassment to his Methodist relations.

  • A. Brereton, Life of Henry Irving (1908)
  • L. Irving, Henry Irving: the actor and his world (1951)
  • Madeleine Bingham, Henry Irving and the Victorian Theatre (1978)
  • Oxford DNB


Entry written by: DCD
Category: Person
Comment on this entry