Brandram, Samuel (DNB01)

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BRANDRAM, SAMUEL (1824–1892), reciter, born in London on 8 Oct. 1824, was the only son of William Caldwell Brandram. He was educated at Merchant Taylors', King's College School, and Trinity College, Oxford, whence he graduated B.A. in 1846, and M.A. three years later. At the university he was best known as an athlete. After leaving Oxford he became a student at Lincoln's Inn, and was called to the bar on 22 Nov. 1850. He practised as a barrister till 1876, when, under stress of financial difficulties, he came before the public as a professional reciter, and obtained wide popularity.

From his university days, when he took part with Frank Talfourd in founding the first Oxford Dramatic Society, Brandram had shown great aptitude for the stage, and was also well known for his singing of ballads. Henry Crabb Robinson [q. v.] records in his diary how on 24 Jan. 1848, at Mr. Justice Talfourd 's house in Russell Square, 'one Brandreth (sic) played the King very well indeed' in a performance of his host's play of 'Ion.' Afterwards, when a Macbeth travesty was performed at Talfourd's house, 'the same Brandreth played Macbeth, and made good fun of the character.' Brandram was accustomed during his vacations to act with the Canterbury Old Stagers and the Windsor Strollers, in company with Albert Smith, Joe Robins, Edmund Yates, and others. He played harlequin in A. Smith's amateur pantomime in 1856.

Brandram first appeared as a reciter at Richmond, and very soon met with success. He had been a student of Shakespeare from his schooldays, and, although his miscellaneous programmes were excellent, he was seen at his best when he gave a whole play of Shakespeare or Sheridan. Of the first he was wont to recite in an almost complete form some dozen plays, among which 'Macbeth' was his favourite.

In 1881 he published 'Selected Plays of Shakspeare, abridged for the use of the Young;' it reached a fourth edition in 1892. The more important passages are printed in full, while short narratives supply the place of the others. In 1885 appeared 'Brandram's Speaker: a Set of Pieces in Prose and Verse suitable for Recitation, with an Introductory Essay on Elocution,' and a portrait. This was reprinted without the essay in 1893. In the same year he issued a further volume of 'Selections from Shakespeare.' Brandram died at 6 Bentinck Street, Cavendish Square, London, on 7 Nov. 1892. He was buried three days later in Richmond cemetery. He married Miss Julia Murray an actress in Charles Kean's company, and left three sons and three daughters.

[Foster's Alumni Oxon. and Men at the Bar; Blackwood's Mag. February 1893, by W. K. R. Bedford; Times, 8 and 11 Nov. 1892; Athenæum and Era, 12 Nov.; Brit. Mus. Cat.; Illustrated London News, 19 Nov. 1892 (by F. T. S.), with portrait.]

G. Le G. N.