Anderson, James Robertson (DNB01)

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ANDERSON, JAMES ROBERTSON (1811–1895), actor, was born in Glasgow on 8 May 1811, and played first at Edinburgh under William Henry Murray [q. v.], then on the Nottingham circuit, and at Newcastle-on-Tyne. From 1834 to 1836 he was manager of the Leicester, Gloucester, and Cheltenham theatres. His first appearance in London was made with Macready on 30 Sept. 1837 at Covent Garden as Florizel in the ‘Winter’s Tale.’ On 23 May 1838 he was the first Sir Valentine de Grey in Knowles’s ‘Woman’s Wit,’ and on 7 March 1839 the first Mauprat in ‘Richelieu.’ At Covent Garden he was Biron in ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost,’ and Romeo, and was the first Fernando in Knowles’s ‘John of Procida,’ and Charles Courtly in ‘London Assurance.’ At Drury Lane he was the first Basil Firebrace in Jerrold’s ‘Prisoners of War,’ Titus Quintus Fulvius in Gerald Griffin’s ‘Gisippus,’ Earl Mertoun in Browning’s ‘Blot in the ’Scutcheon,’ and Wilton in Knowles’s ‘Secretary.’ He was also seen as Othello, Orlando, Captain Absolute, Harry Dornton, Faulconbridge, and Posthumus, to which parts at Covent Garden he added Iago, Cassio, and others. He then in 1846–8 visited America. On 26 Dec. 1849 he opened, as manager, Drury Lane with the ‘Merchant of Venice.’ Among the pieces he produced were the ‘Elder Brother’ of Beaumont and Fletcher, Schiller’s ‘Fiesco,’ ‘Azael the Prodigal,’ Boucicault’s ‘Queen of Spades,’ and Mrs. Lovell’s ‘Ingomar,’ in which he played the title-role. In 1851 he was Captain Sidney Courtown in Sullivan’s ‘Old Love and the New,’ and the same year, with a loss of over 9,000l., he retired from management. In 1853, 1855, 1856, and 1858 America was revisited. He was seen in 1855 at Drury Lane as Rob Roy. In 1863 he joined Richard Shepherd as manager of the Surrey, and, before the house was burned, produced his own play, the ‘Scottish Chief,’ and the ‘Second Part of King Henry VI,’ in which he doubled the parts of the Duke of York and Jack Cade. For his benefit in 1865 at Drury Lane, he was Antony in ‘Julius Cæsar.’ After visiting Australia in 1807 he reappeared on 26 Sept. 1874 at Drury Lane as Richard I in Halliday’s adaptation of the ‘Talisman,’ and played Antony in ‘Antony and Cleopatra.’ He was also seen at the Strand and at many east-end and country theatres. Besides the ‘Scottish Chief’ he wrote other dramas, of which ‘Cloud and Sunshine’ was produced. On Dec. 1875 at Drury Lane he was Mercutio, and on 1 Nov. 1884 at the Lyceum Tybalt. At the outset Anderson, who had a fine figure and a superb voice, won general acceptance. Macready, chary of eulogy to any possible rival, praised him, and Westland Marston held his Ulric in ‘Werner’ equal to Wallack’s. His voice he spoiled and wore out. In his later years he acted little. He was a familiar figure at the Garrick Club, where he was reticent but always welcome. Returning thence one evening in February 1895 to his rooms in the Bedford Hotel, Covent Garden, a hundred or two yards off, he was garrotted and robbed. From the effects of the injuries he never recovered, and he died at the Bedford Hotel on 3 March 1895. He was buried at Kensal Green.

[Personal knowledge; Pascoe’s Dramatic List; Pollock’s Macready; Scott and Howard’s Blanchard; Marston’s Recollections of our recent Actors; Athenæum, 9 March 1895; Era Almanack.]

J. K.