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Augustus Harris

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Augustus Harris

Sir Augustus Harris
Born Augustus Henry Glossop Harris
(1852-03-18)18 March 1852
Paris, France
Died 22 June 1896(1896-06-22) (aged 44)
Folkestone, England
Occupation Actor, impresario, dramatist
Years active 1873–1896[1]
Spouse(s) Florence Edgcumbe (1881–1896)

Sir Augustus Henry Glossop Harris (18 March 1852 – 22 June 1896), was a British actor, impresario, and dramatist.


  • Early life and career 1
  • Career 2
  • Plays 3
  • Later life 4
  • Personal life 5
  • Legacy 6
  • Notes 7
  • References 8
  • External links 9

Early life and career

Harris was born in Paris, the son of Augustus Glossop Harris (1825–1873), who was also a dramatist, and his wife, née Maria Ann Bone, a theatrical costumier. He spent his childhood in London, returning to Paris for schooling at age 12.[1] In 1877, he starred in one of the most successful London plays of the day, The Pink Dominos, at the Criterion Theatre, alongside Charles Wyndham.[2]


From 1879, Harris was manager of the Drury Lane Theatre in London,[3] and was nicknamed the "Father of Modern Pantomime" and "Augustus Druriolanus". He introduced Jean de Reszke, Nellie Melba, Emma Eames, and Emma Calvé. His first pantomime production was Bluebeard, the next Forty Thieves. He produced and co-wrote the scripts for large-scale pantomimes at Drury Lane every Christmas that became the most popular holiday entertainments in London, assembling a famous company, including Herbert Campbell, Dan Leno and Harry Nicholls.[4]


  • The World, co-written with Paul John Meritt (1843/4–1895) and Henry Pettitt, was Harris's first production, performed at Drury Lane, 1880
  • Youth, co-written with Meritt, 1881
  • Pluck: A Story of £50,000, co-written with Pettitt, produced at Drury Lane, 1882
  • A Sailor and His Lass, co-written with Robert Williams Buchanan, 1883
  • Human Nature, co-written with Pettitt, 1885
  • A Run of Luck, co-written with Pettitt, 1886
  • Pleasure, co-written with Meritt, 1887
  • The Spanish Armada, co-written with Henry Hamilton, 1888
  • Babes in the Wood, 1888, starring Dan Leno, E. L. Blanchard and Harry Nicholls
  • The Royal Oak', co-written with Hamilton, 1889, was the basis of a 1923 silent film of the same name.
  • Jack and the Beanstalk, or, Harlequin and the midwinter night's dream, co-written with Harry Nicholls, 1889[5]
  • A Million of Money, co-written with Pettitt, performed at Drury Lane, 1890
  • Beauty and the Beast, co-written with W. Yardley, 1890
  • Humpty Dumpty, co-written with Harry Nicholls, 1891
  • The Prodigal Daughter, co-written with Pettitt, produced at Drury Lane, 1892
  • Little Bo-Peep, Little Red Riding Hood and Hop o' My Thumb, co-written with Wilton Jones, 1892
  • A Life of Pleasure, co-written with Pettitt, 1893
  • Robinson Crusoe, co-written with Harry Nicholls, 1893
  • Dick Whittington, co-written with Cecil Raleigh and Hamilton, 1894
  • Cheer, Boys, Cheer, co-written with Raleigh and Hamilton, 1895
  • The Derby Winner, co-written with Hamilton and Raleigh, 1895, was produced in the United States under the title The Sporting Duchess. It was the basis of silent films of the same names in 1915 and 1923
  • Cinderella, co-written with Raleigh and Arthur Sturgess, 1895
  • Burmah, co-written with Pettitt, produced on Broadway in 1896
  • The Little Genius, adaptation from the German with Sturgess
  • The Soudan, co-written with Pettitt
  • The Opera Cloak, adaptation from the French with L. D. Powles
  • A Puzzled Painter, co-written with Francis Clement Philips, was published after his death.

Later life

Funerary monument, Brompton Cemetery, London

Harris took an interest in politics, and became a member of the London County Council in 1890, representing the Strand division.[1] He was appointed a sheriff in 1891[1] and deputy lieutenant of the city of London. He was knighted in 1891 and was a chairman of the Eccentric Club.

He died at Folkestone, England in 1896 and is buried in Brompton Cemetery, London[6] at the south side of the central enclosed roundel, marked by a suitably dramatic monument.

Personal life

On 9 November 1881 he married Florence Edgcumbe Rendle at St Luke's Church, Redcliffe Gardens. The bride was given away by her brother, Mr. Francis Rendle. The wedding was strictly a private one and they then went to Paris by the ten o'clock express.[7] After the death of Sir Augustus she married Edward O'Connor Terry on 24 October 1904 at Barnes,[8] where she later lived. She died on 5 September 1914.


Harris is commemorated at the Drury Lane Theatre with a publicly funded memorial fountain featuring masonic symbols, as he was a freemason, and member of Savage Club Lodge in London.[9]


  1. ^ a b c d "Manager Harris Dead" (PDF).  
  2. ^ The Pink Dominos, theatre programme, 1877, accessed 28 January 2013
  3. ^ Wilman, George (1882), "Augustus Harris", Sketches of living celebrities, London: Griffith and Farran, p. 46 
  4. ^ Anthony, pp. 88–90
  5. ^ , 1890"Jack and the Beanstalk"Theatre Royal, Drury Lane: , British Library Evonian Catalogue, accessed 15 January 2013
  6. ^ Brompton residents at
  7. ^ The Era of 12 November 1881
  8. ^ The Penny Illustrated Paper and Illustrated Times of 29 October 1904
  9. ^ See "distinguished members" at the Savage Club Lodge website.


  • Wearing, J. P. (2004). "Harris, Sir Augustus Henry Glossop (1852–1896)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. 
  • Anthony, Barry (2010). The King's Jester. London: I. B. Taurus & Co.  
  • Booth, Michael (1976). English Plays of the Nineteenth Century: Pantomimes, extravaganzas, and burlesques; volume 5 of English Plays of the Nineteenth Century. Michigan: Clarendon Publishing.  
  • Disher, M.W. (1942). Fairs, Circuses and Music Halls. London: William Collins.  
  • Taylor, Millie (2007). British Pantomime Performance. Bristol: Intellect Books.  
  • Zarrilli, Philip. B; Bruce A. McConachie; Gary Jay Williams Thorn (eds) (2006). Theatre Histories: An Introduction. Oxford: Routledge.  

External links

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