Farley, Charles (DNB00)

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FARLEY, CHARLES (1771–1859), actor and dramatist, was born in London in 1771 and entered the theatrical profession at an early age, making his appearance as a page at Covent Garden, London, in 1782. He soon was entrusted with characters of greater prominence, and by his impersonation of Osric in ‘Hamlet,’ Trip in the ‘School for Scandal,’ and similar parts rose to notice in the legitimate drama, but was better known as a melodramatic performer and as an efficient stage-manager. He was the instructor of Joseph Grimaldi, to whose Orson, when he made his first appearance in the character, 10 Oct. 1806, he played Valentine. He assisted Thomas Dibdin in the composition of ‘Harlequin and Mother Goose,’ produced at Covent Garden on 26 Dec. 1806, in which piece, played ninety-two nights, Grimaldi made his name famous. From 1806 to 1834 the Covent Garden pantomimes owed much of their success to his inventive mind and diligent superintendence. As a theatrical machinist he was in his time without a rival, and he was the originator of the incidents and tricks introduced into the dramas and pantomimes at this house. His Sanguinback in ‘Cherry and Fair Star,’ his Grindoff in ‘The Miller and his Men,’ a piece for which Sir H. R. Bishop wrote charming music, his Robinson Crusoe, and his Timour the Tartar were masterpieces of melodramatic acting. Jeremy, a fop, in ‘Love for Love,’ and Lord Trinket in the ‘Jealous Wife’ were also in his list of characters. His acting was in the old-fashioned noisy manner, with much gesture, a style which, however, then suited the taste of the patrons of the stage. He retired from public life in 1834, and died at his residence, 42 Ampthill Square, Hampstead Road, London, on 28 Jan. 1859.

He was the writer of: 1. Air, glees, and choruses in the pantomime called ‘Raymond and Agnes, or the Castle of Lindenburgh,’ 1797. 2. ‘The Magic Oak, a Christmas Pantomime,’ 1799. 3. ‘Aggression, or the Heroine of Yucatan,’ 1805. 4. ‘Harlequin and Mother Shipton. Arranged and produced by Mr. Farley,’ 1826. 5. ‘Henry IV, Part II. Arranged by Mr. Farley, with four additional scenes representing the Coronation in the Abbey,’ 1821. He also wrote many other pieces which were not printed.

[Kenrick's British Stage, July 1818, p. 145, with portrait; Era, 6 Feb. 1859, p. 11; Times, 8 Feb. 1859, p. 5; Memoirs of Grimaldi (1846), i. 218, ii. 42; Gilliland's Dramatic Mirror (1808), ii. 758; Reminiscences of Thomas Dibdin (1827), i. 228, ii. 418; West's Theatrical Characters (1824), with portraits.]

G. C. B.