Albery, James (DNB01)

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ALBERY, JAMES (1838–1889), dramatist, eldest son of James and Amelia Eleanor Albery, was born in Swan Street, Trinity Square, London, on 4 May 1838. After some private schooling he entered an architect's office in Fenchurch Street at fourteen, and remained there till, on the death of his father in 1859, he helped his mother in conducting the business of rope and twine dealer in the Blackfriars Road. But he had already formed the ambition of writing for the stage. After several unsuccessful endeavours, he, on 4 June 1866, gave to the Lyceum ‘Dr. Davy,’ an adaptation of ‘Le Docteur Robin,’ in which Mr. Herman Vezin played David Garrick. On 4 June 1870 Albery obtained at the Vaudeville his most conspicuous success in a three-act comedy called ‘Two Roses,’ in which (Sir) Henry Irving made a great reputation in the role of Digby Grant. This was strengthened by the addition (27 Aug.) of ‘Chiselling,’ a farce by Albery and Joseph J. Dalley. On the 250th representation of ‘Two Roses’ (the performance being for (Sir) Henry Irving's benefit), Albery delivered an original sketch, entitled ‘Our Secretary's Reply.’ ‘Two Roses’ was printed in Lacy's ‘Acting Plays,’ 1881.

At the St. James's, 4 March 1871, was produced Albery's ‘Two Thorns,’ which had already been played at the Prince of Wales's, Liverpool, as ‘Coquettes.’ On 27 May the Vaudeville produced his ‘Tweedie's Rights,’ a grim piece on the subject of delirium tremens, and on 9 Sept. his ‘Apple Blossoms.’ On 23 Oct., at the Lyceum, (Sir) Henry Irving appeared as Jingle in Albery's ‘Pickwick,’ a poor adaptation from Dickens. ‘Forgiven’ followed at the Globe (9 March 1872). ‘Oriana,’ a fairy legend, was given at the Globe on 15 Feb. 1873, and the ‘Will of Wise King Kino,’ a similar experiment, at the Princess's, 13 Sept. On 6 April 1874 ‘Wig and Gown’ was played at the Globe, and on the 22nd ‘Pride’ at the Vaudeville. ‘The Spendthrift’ followed at the Olympic, 24 May 1875; ‘The Man in Possession’ at the Gaiety, 4 Dec. 1876; and ‘Jingle,’ a revised version of his ‘Pickwick,’ at the Lyceum, 8 July 1878. With Mr. Joseph Hatton he produced at the Princess's, 30 Nov. 1878, ‘Number Twenty, or the Bastille of Calvados.’ To the Haymarket he gave ‘The Crisis’ (2 Dec. 1878), to the Prince of Wales's ‘Duty,’ from ‘Les Bourgeois de Pont-Arcy’ (27 Sept. 1879), and to the Vaudeville ‘Jacks and Jills’ (29 May 1880). To the Criterion Theatre he gave a series of successful adaptations, including ‘Pink Dominos’ (founded on the French of Hennequin and Delacour). Albery's work never fulfilled his promise, which at the outset was brilliant. He had a wild, extravagant imagination, and in ‘Oriana’ recalled the gifts of Fletcher. He was for a time a sort of stock writer to the Criterion. At that theatre his wife, Miss Mary Moore, whom he married in 1878 when she was very young, played female ‘lead.’ He died, while still comparatively young, in his chambers in St. Martin's Lane on 15 Aug. 1889, and was buried on 20 Aug. at Kensal Green.

[Personal knowledge; Athenæum, 24 Aug. 1889; Scott and Howard's Life of Blanchard; Era Almanack.]

J. K.