Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Lovell, George William

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LOVELL, GEORGE WILLIAM (1804–1878), dramatic author, born in 1804, was for many years secretary of the Phœnix Insurance Company, but devoted his leisure to writing plays. His first play was the ‘Avenger,’ produced at the Surrey Theatre in 1835, when Samuel Butler represented the chief character. This was followed by the ‘Provost of Bruges,’ with Macready as the hero, at Covent Garden 10 Feb. 1836. The play was founded on ‘The Serf,’ a story in Leitch Ritchie's ‘Romance of History,’ and attained great popularity. A novel called ‘The Trustee,’ which appeared in 1841, further advanced Lovell's literary fame; ‘Love's Sacrifice, or the Rival Merchants,’ a five-act drama, was brought out at Covent Garden on 12 Sept. 1842, under Charles Kemble's management, and the comedy of ‘Look before you Leap,’ at the Haymarket 29 Oct. 1846. Lovell's most famous play, the ‘Wife's Secret,’ was purchased by Charles Kean for 400l. before a line of it was written. It was originally produced at the Park Theatre, New York, 12 Oct. 1846 (Ireland, New York Stage, 1867, ii. 466), and was brought out at the Haymarket, London, 17 Jan. 1848, when it ran for thirty-six nights, and has kept the stage. Lovell's last drama, the ‘Trial of Love,’ acted at the Princess's Theatre 7 Jan. 1852, ran twenty-three nights, with Mr. and Mrs. Kean in the principal characters. He died at 18 Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead, 13 May 1878, in his seventy-fifth year. The majority of his dramatic pieces were printed.

Lovell's wife, Maria Anne Lovell (1803–1877), actress and dramatist, whom he married in 1830, was daughter of Willoughby Lacy, patentee of Drury Lane, who died 17 Sept. 1831, and was born in London 15 July 1803. She first appeared on the stage in 1818 at Belfast as Mrs. Haller, when her success was complete. In 1820 she played at Glasgow and Edinburgh in conjunction with Edmund Kean and Charles Young. On 9 Oct. 1822 she represented Belvidera at Covent Garden, which she followed with Isabella, and was then engaged by the lessee, Henry Harris, for three years. She excelled in pathetic parts (Mrs. C. Baron Wilson, Our Actresses, 1844, pp. 250–5). On her marriage she retired from the stage and employed herself in writing plays. Her drama ‘Ingomar the Barbarian,’ in five acts, was translated and altered from the German; on its production at Drury Lane in 1851 the piece greatly owed its success to the acting of Miss Charlotte Vandenhoff in the character of Parthenia; it was revived in London by Miss Mary Anderson, the American actress, in September 1883. Another piece by Mrs. Lovell, ‘The Beginning and the End,’ in four acts, was first performed at the Haymarket in 1855 (Era, 8 April, 1877, p. 6). She died at 18 Lyndhurst Road, Hampstead, 2 April 1877.

[Era Almanack, 1869, p. 19; Era newspaper, 19 May, 1878, p. 6; Illustrated London News, 8 June 1878, p. 533, with portrait.]

G. C. B.