British playwright and actor Wilson Barrett was born on February 18, 1846 in Essex, England. The historical tragedy The Sign of the Cross (1895) was Barrett's most successful play. Barrett is remembered as an actor of handsome appearance (despite his small stature) and with a powerful voice. He made his first appearance on the stage in 1864. Barrett capitalized on his early success as an actor to start a career as a producer. In 1879 he took over the management of the Old Court Theatre, where in the following year he introduced actress Madame Helena Modjeska to London theater patrons. In 1881 Barrett took over the recently refurbished Princess’s Theatre, where his melodramatic productions enjoyed great success, with attendance being the highest ever for this theater. There Barrett presented The Lights o’ London, and The Silver King, regarded as the most successful melodrama of the 19th century in England. By the 1890s, the London stage was already coming under new influences, and Wilson Barrett's vogue in melodrama had waned, leaving him in financial difficulties. Beginning in 1894 he toured the United States. Still there in 1895, Barrett found fortune again with a production which would effectively become his most successful, The Sign of the Cross. Wilson Barrett died in London, on September 22, 1904.
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of Great Britain’s Literary Legends. The book can be pre-ordered from Amazon through the following links:
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/Great-Britains-Literary-Legends-Writers/dp/0764344382/ref=la_B0035CPN70_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1361210805&sr=1-5