Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Talfourd, Francis

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TALFOURD, FRANCIS (1828–1862), dramatist, born in 1828, was eldest son of Sir Thomas Noon Talfourd [q. v.], by his wife Rachel, eldest daughter of John Towill Rutt [q. v.] Francis was educated at Eton from 1841 to 1845, on 15 May in which year he matriculated from Christ Church, Oxford. He was called to the bar at the Middle Temple on 17 Nov. 1852, and occasionally went circuit, but was chiefly known as the writer of a series of burlesques and extravaganzas. His first piece, ‘Macbeth Travestie,’ was originally produced at Henley-on-Thames during the regatta on 17 June 1847, and was afterwards brought out at the Strand Theatre on 10 Jan. 1848, and at the Olympic on 25 April 1853. He wrote for many of the theatres, and his pieces, though light and ephemeral, were in their day very popular. Among his best known pieces were ‘Alcestis, the original Strong-minded Woman,’ a burlesque brought out on 4 July 1850; ‘The Rule of Three,’ a comedietta, 20 Dec. 1858; ‘Tell and the Strike of the Cantons,’ 26 Dec. 1859, an extravaganza, in which Marie Wilton played Albert, and Patty Oliver Lisetta; all these were at the Strand Theatre. At the Olympic he brought out ‘Ganem, the Slave of Love,’ on 31 May 1852, and ‘Shylock, or the Merchant of Venice preserved,’ on 4 July 1853. In this burlesque Thomas Frederick Robson [q. v.] gave his very remarkable tragi-comic representation of the Jew. For the Haymarket he wrote ‘Pluto and Proserpine’ on 5 April 1858, and ‘Electra, in a new Electric Light,’ on 25 April 1859, in which Miss M. Ternan was seen as Orestes. On 26 Dec. 1854 he brought out at the St. James's ‘Abou Hassan, or the Hunt after Happiness,’ in which John Laurence Toole made one of his earliest appearances. With Henry James Byron he collaborated in bringing out his last piece, ‘The Miller and his Men,’ at the Strand Theatre on 9 April 1860. He died at Mentone on 9 March 1862, in his thirty-fourth year. He married, on 5 Nov. 1861, Frances Louisa Morgan, second daughter of Josiah Towne, a solicitor of Margate.

[Gent. Mag. April 1862, p. 520; Athenæum, 15 March 1862, p. 365.]

G. C. B.