1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Bunn, Alfred

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BUNN, ALFRED (1796–1860), English theatrical manager, was appointed stage-manager of Drury Lane theatre, London, in 1823. In 1826 he was managing the Theatre Royal, Birmingham, and in 1833 he undertook the joint management of Drury Lane and Covent Garden, London. In this undertaking he met with vigorous opposition. A bill for the abolition of the patent theatres was passed in the House of Commons, but on Bunn’s petition was thrown out by the House of Lords. He had difficulties first with his company, then with the lord chamberlain, and had to face the keen rivalry of the other theatres. A longstanding quarrel with Macready resulted in the tragedian assaulting the manager. In 1840 Bunn was declared a bankrupt, but he continued to manage Drury Lane till 1848. Artistically his control of the two chief English theatres was highly successful. Nearly every leading English actor played under his management, and he made a courageous attempt to establish English opera, producing the principal works of Balfe. He had some gift for writing, and most of the libretti of these operas were translated by himself. In The Stage Before and Behind the Curtain (3 vols., 1840) he gave a full account of his managerial experiences. He died at Boulogne on the 20th of December 1860.