Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Vining, George J.
VINING, GEORGE J. (1824–1875), actor, was born in 1824.
His father, James Vining (1795–1870), son of Charles Vining, a silversmith in Kirby Street, Hatton Garden, was first seen in London at Covent Garden, on 3 Oct. 1828, as Tybalt in ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ and played Prince of Wales in the ‘First Part of King Henry IV,’ Raymond in ‘Raymond and Agnes,’ and one or two other parts. He was with Madame Vestris at the Olympic in 1831. His last appearance was at the Lyceum in 1860. One of his latest parts was Doctor Manette in Tom Taylor's adaptation, ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ (Lyceum, 30 Jan. 1860). He was seen to most advantage in lovers and fops. He died on 27 June 1870.
George was educated at St. Peter's grammar school, Eaton Square, London, and subsequently in France. After serving as clerk in a bank six years, towards the end of which he played with an histrionic club at St. James's Theatre, he came out on 4 Dec. 1845 at the Newmarket Theatre as Hamlet. At Jersey he met Macready, in whose company his father had been, and accepted an engagement to play with him in Bath and Bristol. He then joined Mrs. Warner [q. v.] at the Marylebone Theatre, making there, 30 Aug. 1847, his first appearance in London as Florizel in the ‘Winter's Tale.’ In 1853 he was with Alfred Sidney Wigan [q. v.] at the Olympic, where in Tom Taylor's ‘Still Waters run deep’ he was, on 15 May 1855, the first Captain Hawksley. He played Charles Surface; was on 11 Feb. 1856 the original Frank Lauriston in ‘Stay at Home,’ an adaptation by Slingsby Lawrence (G. H. Lewes) of ‘Un Mari qui se dérange;’ and on 26 March 1857 the original Charles in ‘Daddy Hardacre,’ an adaptation of ‘La Fille de l'Avare.’ He spoke a prologue at the opening of the house under the management of Robson and Emden on 11 Aug. On 21 Oct. he was the first Frank Leveson in Troughton's ‘Leading Strings;’ on 19 April 1858 Colonel Clive in Oxenford's ‘Doubtful Victory;’ on 5 June Captain Hardingham in Tom Taylor's ‘Going to the Bad;’ on 2 Dec. Stephen Scatter in Oxenford's ‘Porter's Knot;’ on 5 May 1859 Whitewash in the ‘Counsel for the Defence;’ on 24 Sept. Sir Edward Ardent in ‘A Morning Call,’ taken from Musset; on 5 March 1860 Reginald Ready in ‘Uncle Zachary.’ He also played Wildrake in a revival of ‘The Love Chase.’ In 1862 he was at the St. James's, where he played, on 18 Jan., the hero of ‘Self-made,’ his own adaptation of ‘Le Chevalier de St. Georges,’ and on 8 March Mr. Union in ‘Friends or Foes,’ adapted by Horace Wigan from ‘Nos Intimes.’ At the Princess's on 24 June 1863 he was Mercutio to the Juliet of Stella Colas. He was the first Richard Goldsworthy in Watts Phillips's ‘Paul's Return’ (15 March 1864). In quick succession he was one of the Antipholuses in a revival of the ‘Comedy of Errors’ by the Brothers Webb; Philip II, an original part in Oxenford's ‘Monastery of St. Just;’ and Badger the detective—his most popular creation—in Boucicault's ‘Streets of London’ (1 Aug.). Under his own management, which began in 1863, he produced (4 Oct. 1865) Charles Reade's ‘Never too late to mend,’ playing Tom Robinson. Frederick Guest Tomlins [q. v.], theatrical critic of the ‘Morning Advertiser,’ harangued against the brutal realism of some of the scenes; there was a tumult in the house, and Vining made a speech of protest. On 2 July 1867 he played an original part in the ‘Huguenot Captain’ of Watts Phillips, of which Miss Neilson was the heroine, and on 12 Aug. 1868 a second in Boucicault's ‘After Dark.’ He was the first Bullhead, to Charles Mathews's Gentleman Jack, in ‘Escaped from Portland’ (9 Oct. 1869). After his retirement from management he played, at the Olympic, Count Fosco at the first production of Wilkie Collins's ‘Woman in White’ (9 Oct. 1871), obtaining a great success. He died at Reading on 17 Dec. 1875. Vining also played at Brighton, in October 1872, Marlborough in Watts Phillips's drama so called. He was a respectable actor, not in the first class.
George Vining's uncle, Frederick Vining (1790?–1871), played at the age of sixteen, at Gravesend, Young Norval, and remained four years on the Gravesend, Worthing, Hythe, and Brighton circuit. He is said to have appeared in Bath in 1809 as Durimel in the ‘Point of Honour.’ Genest does not mention this performance. Thence he went to Norwich. He appeared at Covent Garden, 17 Sept. 1813, as Frederick in ‘The Poor Gentleman.’ He played Harry Dornton in the ‘Road to Ruin,’ Count Frederick Friberg in the ‘Miller and his Men’ (21 Oct. 1813, as one of the original cast, every member of which he survived), Frederick in ‘The Jew,’ and other parts. Re-engaged at Bath, he appeared on 7 Nov. 1821 as Benedick, and played during the season, among other rôles, one or two original parts, including Tressilian in ‘Kenilworth.’ At the Haymarket he opened, 16 June 1823, as Young Rapid in ‘A Cure for the Heartache,’ playing also Dick Dowlas in ‘Heir-at-Law,’ Almaviva in ‘Marriage of Figaro,’ Charles Franklin—an original part—in ‘Sweethearts and Wives’ (7 July), Flexible in ‘Love, Law, and Physic,’ and many more characters in comedy. After acting as stage manager at the Haymarket for a short period and reappearing at the Olympic, his faculties became clouded. His last years were spent in retirement, and he died on 2 June 1871. In his best days he was a good comedian; he is depicted as Petruchio in the ‘Theatrical Times’ (iii. 423). He married a Miss Bew, who was also on the stage. His daughter, Fanny Vining (Mrs. C. Gill), played with Kean and with Macready, and was with Mrs. Warner at the Marylebone.
Mrs. Vining, who on 8 March 1821 was at Covent Garden the first Amy Robsart in ‘Kenilworth,’ and on the 12th Lady Anne to Macready's Richard III, was the wife of William Vining. She became celebrated in Meg Merrilies and Helen Macgregor, and was a favourite at Bath in 1813–14.
Many other Vinings, masculine and feminine, have been on the stage during the last two centuries. A daughter of H. Vining long enjoyed high repute as a comedian under the name of Mrs. John Wood.
[Genest's Account of the English Stage; Oxberry's Dramatic Biography, vol. vi.; Theatrical Times; Tallis's Dramatic Magazine; Dramatic Magazine, 1829; Macready's Reminiscences; Scott and Howard's Life of Blanchard; Era, 3 July 1870, 11 June 1871, 26 Dec. 1875; Era Almanack, various years; Dramatic and Musical Review.]