1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bancroft, Sir Squire

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BANCROFT, SIR SQUIRE (1841- ), English actor and manager, was born near London on the 14th of May 1841. His first appearance on the stage was in 1861 at Birmingham, and he played in the provinces with success for several years. His first London appearance was in 1865 in Wooler's A Winning Hazard at the Prince of Wales's theatre off Tottenham Court Road, then under the management of Effie Marie Wilton (b. 1840), whom he married in 1868. Mr and Mrs Bancroft were associated in the production of all the Robertson comedies:—Society (1865), Ours (1866), Caste (1867), Play (1868), School (1869) and M.P. (1870), and, after Robertson's death, in revivals of the old comedies, for which they surrounded themselves with an admirable company. Lytton's Money (1872), Boucicault's London Assurance (1877), and Diplomacy—an adaptation of Sardou's Dora—were among their premières, which helped to make the little playhouse famous. The Bancroft management at the Prince of Wales's constituted a new era in the development of the English stage, and had the effect of reviving the London interest in modern drama. In 1879 they moved to the Haymarket, where Sardou's Odette (for which they engaged Madame Modjeska) and Fédora, W. S. Gilbert's Sweethearts and Pinero's Lords and Commons, with revivals of previous successes, were among their productions. Having made a considerable fortune, they retired in 1885, but Mr Bancroft (who was knighted in 1897) joined Sir Henry Irving in 1889 to play the abbé Latour in a revival of Watts Phillips's Dead Heart.

See Mr and Mrs Bancroft, on and off the Stage (1888), and The Bancrofts: Recollections of Sixty Years (1909), by themselves.