As the years and pages go by in "A Strange Eventful History," this long biography starts to feel increasingly Proustian: Here is the flow of life, as one generation passes into the next, as men and women struggle for fame and achievement, then surprisingly find that they have grown old. Henry Irving, who wanted to go "like that," returned one night to his hotel after a performance, slumped down in a chair and died. Ellen lingered into her 80s: "The days are so short -- I wake in the morning -- I meet a little misery -- I meet a little happiness -- I fight with one -- I greet the other -- the day is gone." And toward his end, Gordon Craig told visitors, "I was very honoured when our Queen made me . . . whatever it was." Enough. "A Strange Eventful History" is a wonderful book, deserving applause, bouquets and a rave review in this morning's paper.
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Life in the Theatre
A review of A Strange Eventful History, a new biography of actors Henry Irving and Ellen Terry and the children who attempted to carry on their name in the theatre.