Edwin Booth

Edwin Booth (1833-1893) was the son of Junius Brutus Booth (1796-1852), an English actor who came to the United States in 1821. Edwin was born on the Booth farm near Bel Air Maryland (Harford County). He was educated in the local private schools and also went with his father on theatrical tours from the age of thirteen and in the two years following played parts of children in his father's productions. He accompanied his father to California in July 1852, where they acted in San Francisco and Sacramento under the Management of Junius Brutus Booth Jr. The elder J.B. Booth started to return to Maryland, but died on the way.

Edwin Booth stayed in the west and toured the mining towns and acted in his brother's company in San Francisco. He stayed in California until 1856, interrupted by a tour of Australia in 1854. After he returned east, he toured the south, acted in Boston and New York, and toured again in the west and south.

Edwin Booth married Mary Devlin in 1860. In 1861 they sailed to England, where he appeared in London, Liverpool and Manchester in rather unsuccessful engagements. They returned to New York where Booth acted at the Winter Garden until his wife's sudden death in February 1863. He temporarily retired from the stage, but returned to manage the Winter Garden in September 1863.

Booth's management of the Winter Garden was interrupted by his brother's assassination of Lincoln in April 1865 ( John Wilkes Booth ). He returned to it in January 1866, but the theater burned in March 1867. To replace the Winter Garden he built Booth's theater in New York, which opened February 3, 1869. The financial panic of 1873-74 forced him to withdraw in 1873 and in 1874 he became bankrupt. For the rest of his career he toured the United States, the British Isles and Europe without having a permanent theater home.

In 1869 he married his leading lady, Mary McVicker. She retired from the stage and died in 1881. Booth's final performance was in Hamlet, April 4, 1891 in Brooklyn. He died June 7, 1893.

Adapted from Edwin Booth Papers

© Copyright January 21, 1999, Office of the Secretary of State.
Last Modified September 16, 2003.