Reece, Robert (DNB00)

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REECE, ROBERT (1838–1891), dramatist, was born in the island of Barbados, West Indies, on 2 May 1838. His father, Robert Reece (1808–1874), was a barrister of the Inner Temple. The son matriculated from Balliol College, Oxford, on 28 Jan. 1857, and graduated B.A. 1860, and M.A. 1864. He was admitted a student at the Inner Temple in 1860, but was not called to the bar. For a short time he was a medical student; then, between 1861 and 1863, an extra clerk in the office of the ecclesiastical commissioners, and from 1864 to 1868 an extra temporary clerk to the emigration commissioners.

Meanwhile he wrote some comic pieces for the stage with fair success. He was industrious and a facile rhymster. His first effort was the libretto of an operetta, ‘Castle Grim’ (music by G. Allen), produced at the Royalty Theatre on 2 Sept. 1865. Among Reece's subsequent contributions to the same stage were ‘Prometheus,’ a burlesque, on 23 Dec. 1865, printed in Lacy's ‘Acting Edition of Plays,’ vol. lxviii.; ‘The Lady of the Lake,’ burlesque, on 10 Sept. 1866 (Lacy, vol. lxxi.); ‘Whittington Junior and his Sensation Cat,’ a burlesque, on 23 Nov. 1871 (ib. vol. lxxxix.); ‘Dora's Device,’ a comedietta, on 11 Jan. 1871 (ib. vol. xc.); ‘Little Robin Hood,’ a burlesque, on 19 April 1871, revived at the Gaiety Theatre in 1882 (ib. vol. xci.); ‘Paquita, or Love in a Trance,’ a comic opera, music by J. A. Mallandine, on 21 Oct. 1871 (ib. vol. xciv.). At the Queen's Theatre he produced ‘The Stranger, stranger than Ever,’ a burlesque, on 4 Nov. 1868 (ib. vol. lxxxii.); and many others were brought out at the Globe, the Olympic, the Vaudeville, the Strand, and the Gaiety. At the last theatre he produced fourteen pieces between 14 Sept. 1872 and 8 April 1884, among them the burlesques ‘Forty Thieves,’ on 23 Dec. 1880; ‘Aladdin,’ on 24 Dec. 1881; ‘Little Robin Hood,’ on 15 Sept. 1882; and ‘Valentine and Orson,’ on 23 Dec. 1882 (printed 1882). In fifteen pieces he collaborated with Henry Brougham Farnie, and occasionally joined other dramatic writers working on like lines to his own. He died at 10 Cantlowes Road, Camden Square, London, on 8 July 1891, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery.

[Illustrated Sporting and Dramatic News, 1881, xvi. 357, with portrait; Archer's English Dramatists of To-day, 1882, pp. 289–93; Saturday Programme, 25 Oct. 1876, pp. 3–4, with portrait; Illustrated London News, 18 July 1891, p. 71, with portrait; Era, 11 July 1891, p. 9; Figaro, 18 July 1891, p. 14, with portrait; Blanchard's Life and Reminiscences, 1891, i. 314, &c., ii. 364, 724; Morton's Plays for Home Performers, 1889, p. xi; information from Colonial Office and from Office of Ecclesiastical Commissioners.]

G. C. B.