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Buckstone, John Baldwin

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Born at Hoxton on 14 September 1802, he was, at the age of 11 (according to an early memoir), placed on board a man-of-war, but at the intercession of a relative he was brought home and articled to a solicitor. Soon he left the law for the stage, making his first appearance at Peckham as Captain Aubri in “The Dog of Montargis”. After gaining experience and a good reputation in the provinces, and with the encouragement of Edmund Kean, he appeared in London at the Surrey Theatre on 30 January 1823 as Ramsay in “The Fortunes of Nigel”. He acted at the Coburg for three seasons and then became a member of Daniel Terry’s company at the Adelphi, where on 1 October 1827 he appeared as Bobby Trot in his own play “Luke the Labourer”. Back at the Surrey he was the original Gnatbrain in Jerrold’s Black-Eyed Susan on 8 June 1829. In 1833 he engaged at the Haymarket Theatre, where he acted summers until 1839, and where many of his farces were produced, including “Ellen Wareham” (1833), “Uncle John” (1833), “Married Life” (1834) and “Single Life” (1839). Except for short stints at the Lyceum and Drury Lane and a visit to America, Buckstone spent most of his career at the Haymarket, where he became manager in 1853 and produced some 200 of his own plays. He also wrote some novels and pantomimes. It was said that he acted Buckstone in every part, but he displayed an ‘abundant geniality’ which he also possessed in private life until he became somewhat misanthropic in his later years. He was best in such broad comic roles as Tony Lumpkin, Launcelot Gobbo, Scrub and Bob Acres. Buckstone became a member of the Garrick Club in 1854. He died on 31 October 1879. His ghost is said to haunt the Haymarket Theatre. A version of Knight’s portrait of him (G0097) was done by Maclise and was engraved by R. Page. A number of engravings of him in various characters were also published. (See Burnim and Wilton, “The Richard Bebb Collection in the Garrick Club”, B0159.)
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