Harris, Augustus Henry Glossop (DNB01)

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search

HARRIS, Sir AUGUSTUS HENRY GLOSSOP (1852–1896), actor, impresario, and dramatist, the son of Augustus Glossop Harris [q. v.], was born in the Rue Taitbout, Paris, in 1852. After a short experience of commerce, he played in September 1873 Malcolm in a revival at the Theatre Royal, Manchester, of Macbeth.' At the Amphitheatre, Liverpool, in juvenile and light comedy parts, he supported Barry Sullivan [q. v.] He then became, under Mapleson, assistant stage-manager, and afterwards manager, at Covent Garden. He produced in 1876 Blanchard's Crystal Palace pantomime, 'Sindbad the Sailor.' At the Criterion he was, 31 March 1877, the original Harry Greenlanes in 'Pink Dominoes.' In 1879 he became the lessee of Drury Lane, but it was some time before he could carry out his ambitious and well-planned schemes. On 31 July 1880 he produced the 'World,' by himself, Paul Meritt, and Henry Pettitt, a spectacular melodrama, which was succeeded, 6 Aug. 1881, by 'Youth,' by the same authors. 'Pluck,' by Harris and Pettitt, came in 1882; 'A Sailor and his Lass,' in collaboration with Robert Buchanan, and ' Freedom,' with Rowe, in 1883; 'Human Nature,' with Pettitt, 1885; 'A Run of Luck,' with the same, 1886; 'Pleasure,' with Meritt, 1887; the 'Armada,' with Hamilton, 1888; the 'Royal Oak,' with the same, 1889; 'A Million of Money,' with Pettitt, 1890; 'A Sailor and his Lass,' by Pettitt alone, 1891; the 'Prodigal Daughter,' with Pettitt, 1892; 'A Life of Pleasure,' with the same, 1893; the 'Derby Winner,' with C. Raleigh and H. Hamilton, 1894; and 'Cheer, Boys, Cheer,' by the same, 1895. The popularity of most of these and that of the pantomimes, which were on a scale of unexampled splendour, raised Drury Lane to the highest point of prosperity. No less remarkable was Harris's success with opera. Beginning at Drury Lane with 'Lohengrin' in 1887, he produced, at one or other of the great houses, operas such as 'Cavalleria Rusticana,' 'Falstaff,' 'I Pagliacci,' 'I Rantzau,'; La Navarraise,' with great splendour and with the finest obtainable cast. For tragedy he engaged Ristori and John McCullough, whom, in ' Yirginius,' he supported as Icilius, the Saxe-Meiningen company, and the Grand-Ducal company of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. Indefatigable in labour, he managed three, and sometimes four, of the principal London theatres at the same time. The spring of 1891 thus saw him at the same time manager of Her Majesty's, Covent Garden, Drury Lane, and the Olympic. He was the first member of the London County Council for the Strand division, and a member of the committee on theatres and music halls; was sheriff of London in 1890-1, and was knighted on the occasion of the visit of the German emperor. These manifold occupations overtaxed his strength, and he died at the Pavilion Hotel, Folkestone, on 22 June 1896. Harris had a genius for stage management, in which in his time he had no English equal. He had few gifts as an actor, though he occasionally played in his own pieces. He married, on 8 Nov. 1881, Florence Edgecornbe Rendle, who survives him. His sisters Nelly and Maria and his brother Charles were also connected with the stage.

[Personal recollections; Scott and Howard's Blanchard; Pascoe's Dramatic List; Dramatic Peerage; Men of the Time, 14th ed.; Athenæum, 27 June 1896; The Theatre, July 1896, and various years; Athenæum, Era, Era Almanack, various years.]

J. K.